MOUNT VERNON — The recent removal of all of the cats from the Knox County Humane Society Cat Shelter was done without the knowledge or approval of the humane society board of directors, according to board president David Guffey.
Cat shelter holds open house – February 19, 2008
Population up, money down at cat shelter – December 13, 2008
Cat-astrophe continues – September 25, 2009
Issues at cat shelter may jeopardize dog program – November 10, 2009
No changes in policy at cat shelter – November 19, 2009
Cats saved; layoffs possible – January 4, 2010
Cat shelter investigation continues – January 16, 2010
Group returns cats to shelter – February 2, 2010
Guffey also refuted other contentions that the spay /neuter program was being eliminated and that staff members at the shelter had been laid off.
“[Removal of the cats] was done without notification or authorization of the board,” he said. “We were not aware of any of those plans and found out on Jan. 1 that the cats were all gone. We know that the cats were removed on Dec. 31, sometime between the hours of 7 p.m. and midnight.
“Since the cats are gone, we are taking the opportunity to fumigate and renovate the building,” he continued. “We will take the opportunity to clean the building up and make it more presentable to the public. We did call the sheriff and they took a statement and made a report. But since there was no breaking and entering, there was not a lot they could do at that time.”
Guffey said he did not know exactly what happened to the cats.
“We would love to know where the cats went,” he said, “but the records were also taken from the building.”
Guffey said that Toni Kendel, who provided the information on the cat removal, termination of the spay/neuter program and the layoff of staff, is only a volunteer and not an official spokesperson for the humane society or its board.
Guffey addressed the matter of staff layoffs.
“This was thrust upon us,” he said. “We didn’t have any intention of firing or laying off any of the staff. But since there are no cats in the building, there is no reason to pay feline staff to care for the animals. So their hours have been drastically cut back. They haven’t been fired or laid off.
“We are looking for opportunities within the canine program — and we still have [dogs] on site — and any other opportunities we can find to allow them to work something close to their normal shift. Obviously, we can’t guarantee that. The [cats] are gone and there is no justification for [the employees] to come in or for us to pay them.”
The fate of the spay/neuter clinic was also addressed by Guffey.
“That is an ongoing program,” he explained. “That is a very valuable program to the humane society as well as the community at large. There are no changes planned for spay/neuter. Those programs will continue for both canine and feline.”
Board member Sue Clogg said a spay/neuter clinic was held at the cat shelter on Monday.
Guffey also noted the board is in the process of investigating grants to help make spay/neuter even more affordable.
Guffey said the prime goal right now for the cat shelter is renovation. This will include fumigation, replacement of drywall as needed, vermin elimination, cleaning the ductwork to reduce or eliminate ringworm mold and repainting the facility with something other than the current flat paint, which Guffey said is very difficult to clean.
Guffey said the only official spokesman for the humane society is Curtiss Bennett, president of the society. Guffey is president of the board and familiar with the facts. Guffey said a statement will be released, laying out the official position of the board on running the cat shelter and the canine rescue program.
Guffey also wanted to remind pet owners it is illegal to abandon any animal, not just pets, in Ohio.