Friday, October 15, 2010

Best Friends and Where DO we go from here?

Negative publicity often leads to follow-up posts, and Best Friends is no exception. Here is their follow up blog entry to the "incident" in which three dogs escaped out of separate kennels and one dog died.

Because I feel some people will misconstrue, let me just clear the air - I like Best Friends just fine. I like any organization that provides permanent and safe refuge to dogs who can handle it. I don't believe there is any valid reason to kill healthy or treatable animals, and Best Friends is a place that can provide haven to animals who may not function well in a more chaotic setting.

As an employee of a non-profit farmed animal sanctuary, I understand the delicate nature of handling  something when it goes wrong due to human error. Screw ups are a part of human nature made all the more heart-wrenching when they involve other living beings in our care. So I empathize immensely with those who love(d) Beans and Tug and Denzel or who provided direct care to them. I don't think calling Best Friends out on this safety issue is in any way demeaning that love.

But (and you knew it was coming) I have not one ounce of patience for an organization that, through its own negligence, refuses to admit anything was wrong!

No matter how you cut it, three dogs chewing through their enclosures to get at each other is not accidental. It just isn't. I don't care if you think Best Friends poops gold - they screwed up.

Hindsight is 20/20, so being sensitive to that, this is what I'd suggest BF say and do, take it or leave it:

"We made a grievous error that has cost a dog his life, shamed our organization and injured two dogs. We've had some concerns in the past and some real problems with dogs getting at each other through the fence. We know they got amped up over normal occurrences, like deer. We've had some escapes. We thought we had fixed some of these problems with concrete barriers, etc. These things happen, but what they should have taught us is that the best prevention is good management - and we failed at that. We know in large traditional shelters that the bite kennels are often double fenced for both the public and animals safety and to prevent escapes. Henceforth, we are installing double-fencing around all enclosures, with an initial focus on those dogs with aggression issues but eventually incorporating all enclosures. In the next six months, we will be placing security CCTV cameras in potential hot spots and within the year around the entire property where animal escapes are likely. If you'd like to donate toward those efforts, which will improve animal safety and security, great"

Instead we get a "woe is me" post. Which is fine, in good time. But when you're in the hot seat, when you're a national organization that has a real problem, then you've gotta let go of the "stop being mean to me" sentiments and start telling us what the hell you're going to do to fix the problem. That's good management.

- Marji Beach

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