Animal Shelter Employees "Take a Stand"

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Saying they did it to save lives, Brazos Animal Shelter employees have spoken out, saying the Board of Directors don't share their concerns for animal welfare. What they didn't know about was significant talks a board member had that morning.

Some 15 employees spoke of a lack of support from the three board members: County Judge Randy Sims and Bryan and College Station's respective city managers.

Outside their shelter Thursday, employees voiced their displeasure with the board, saying they are not able to do their jobs properly, and asking for public support to save the facility, and the lives of the animals.

"With our board's current arrangement, donors cannot be assured about the outcome of their gift," said Paul O'Neill, who acted as spokesman for the employees. "We feel that since our current board also represents the governmental entities that have contracts with the animal shelter, that there is a serious conflict of interest."

"The Animal Shelter's current board is not allowing the shelter to carry out our mission statement that was originally written for the animal shelter by the board 25 years ago," O'Neill added.

The employees claim poor shelter conditions with packed cages, which means they have to euthanize animals faster. They fear executive director Kelley Durham could be replaced by a technical committee of law enforcement officials who wouldn't look out for their needs. They also say the board is not allowing them to raise funds they desperately need.

Another major gripe was that the board does not consist of members who are solely focused on the shelter, just the three high-ranking city and county workers.

"I have no idea what they were trying to accomplish," said Sims in response. "Normally, I work with the director (Kelley Durham), and I've not heard from her today, so I don't know what it's all about. I have no idea."

Sims only found out about the statement by the shelter employees when contacted by local media.

"As far as fundraising goes, we never told them they couldn't fundraise, period," he said. "It's no problem. We'd like to see them subsidize the whole unit, but that's the way it is."

The county sends money to the shelter to house strays.

Sims said attempts have been made to find new land to for the shelter, but that they haven't been able to do so.

He would not speak about personnel matters, but said he believes the current set-up works.

But then there was this tidbit from the judge. Thursday morning, he says he met with a group of county residents, people interested in working to raise major funds for the shelter, people who would want to be a part of an expanded board of directors, one that would still include the current board.

Sims says the board is considering the change, and that they are very interested.

In speaking Thursday night with Durham, who said she was not involved with her employees' statement, she called the possible board changes "excellent," but still supported her employees' stand. She also said the current board was not actively contacting her, nor were they returning her phone calls or e-mails.

While she was happy with the idea of an expanded board and increased fundraising efforts, Durham said the fact that she did not know of the Thursday morning meeting Sims had was further evidence of the lack of commuication between the board and herself.