The Surry County Animal Shelter and several people in the community concerned about the high euthanasia rate there are at odds again, this time over the shelter’s expulsion of a volunteer who was taking pictures of animals in the shelter.
The volunteer was there with permission of shelter officials, under the premise she would take pictures of animals deemed suitable for adoption, then put those pictures on a website in hopes of attracting people looking for a pet.
Sounds like a great plan. Unfortunately, things went awry, apparently, when the volunteer, according to shelter officials, knowingly took photos of animals that were off limits, then posted those online as well. Now, reportedly, shelter Director Gary Brown has said not only is she banned from the building, but no one will be allowed to take photos inside again.
We think the idea of volunteers from the community, working with shelter officials to help find homes for the animals there, is a fine example of a public and private partnership seeking to solve a problem. Unfortunately, it would appear the volunteer in question went too far, violated the trust shelter officials had placed in her, and may have wrecked the opportunity for further partnership work.
We don’t mean to be too harsh on the volunteer, but this is a sensitive issue which has generated public protests, and has the state director of the North Carolina Humane Society coming to town to meet with those involved. We believe her heart was in the right place, wanting to show the public what conditions are like inside the shelter. But having shelter officials extend this opportunity to her and others, and then violating that trust so blatantly, was certainly not in the best interest of the shelter, the animals there, or community members who are willing to volunteer their time and efforts to help alleviate the high euthanasia rate at the shelter.
If a policy, such as not being allowed to take pictures in certain parts of the shelter, is disagreeable, there are ways to try having that policy changed; if there are conditions within the shelter that need to be brought to light, this was not the way to go about it.
At the same time, we find it disheartening that the shelter would make such a wide sweeping policy, banning all attempts to take pictures of the animals there with the hope of using those photos to attract potential pet owners.
Again, we understand this is an explosive issue, and that this incident may have caused more trouble than it was worth. But to slam the door on an entire effort because of the policy violation of one person, and to do so on the first offense, makes it seem as if the entire offer by shelter officials to work with the public was disingenuous. One might think shelter officials were only doing so to lessen public pressure and were looking for a way to back out of the effort at the first opportunity.
One volunteer violated a policy. She has been banned from taking pictures at the shelter. Don’t penalize everyone, most of all the animals who are in your care, for those acts.