Copy of Letter to Director of Kentucky Humane Society

August 31, 2016

Dear Ms. Kane-Redmon,

    I'm writing to you as a former KHS volunteer and a former employee of Miami Dade Animal Services and Louisville Metro Animal Services. Currently I'm a full time mother, part time dog walker, e-commerce entrepreneur and still volunteer at LMAS' Animal House.

    The Kentucky Humane Society is seen as a model shelter; an innovative adoption facility hosting a variety of animal-welfare and adoption events, holding behavior classes for new pet owners, running an impressive pet-help-line for pet parents, starting and running the S.N.I.P. Clinic, offering kid's camp to educate young ones on sheltering and how to be a responsible pet parent.

    For all of these reasons, I was surprised to see the changes that began occurring at your main campus several months ago. It started out with an email from then-volunteer-coordinator, Whitney Hobbs, politely informing volunteers we were no longer to walk or visit with the dogs “on the other side of the door” on the main dog adoption floor. These were now considered 'behavior modification dogs' and were to be worked with exclusively by KHS' esteemed behavior team.
    That, rightfully so, perplexed and frustrated many volunteers. Several of us had relationships and bonds with dogs in that area. I, for one, only walked dogs down that row of kennels. I felt they were the ones most in need of help, that needed exercise and interaction to be ready for their time on the main adoption floor.

    Little by little the KHS trainers began taking over the adoption floor. At first it was a barricade blocking off a few runs before that dividing glass door, then the barricade moved up, and up, and up, until... your main campus reached a point of having an average of THREE dogs 'available for adoption' on any given day, three dogs available to the public, that's it.
    I know this because I still receive volunteer updates via the KHS volunteer Facebook page. The daily facebook memos would and still typically say something like: “puppy room closed, dog runs- 3 dogs and, several cats in the cat rooms,” to inform volunteers of what's 'available' at the main campus.
    It was only logical for me to quit volunteering at KHS. When there are so few dogs to work with, what's the point? I maintain a busy schedule, as do most, and being involved with your facility became a joke.

    I'm writing you now Ms. Kane-Redmon to say, there's a time and place for everything. Behavior Modification in shelters is unquestionably a positive tool in helping pets find and stay in homes. However, when our municipal shelter, just 3 miles up the road from your main campus is still forced to euthanize for TIME/SPACE on occasion, it is unacceptable for KHS to basically transform its main campus into a 'behavior modification center.' LMAS has 400+ animals in its care on any given day.
    For months I've been meaning to write you but couldn't find the time. After receiving a call from a KHS volunteer requesting donations to help care for the “more than 400 pets in your care,” I was moved to write.That was a week ago. Then, after stopping in Feeder's Supply today for bird seed, only to see the KHS adoption corner completely EMPTY of adoptable dogs I knew I couldn't postpone this letter any longer. I'm certain the Kentucky Humane Society can and will do a better job of pulling animals from the DOZENS of other high kill shelters surrounding us to ADOPT OUT MORE HOMELESS PETS.

    The message your organization is undoubtedly sending our community is, “Well, the pet overpopulation problem is solved here in Louisville, Ky. There aren't enough pets available for adoption. You might as well go buy from a breeder!”

    Even the Feeder's Supply employee told me today, “All the pets have been adopted,” when I inquired about why there were no adoptable dogs.You and I know that is not true Ms. Kane-Redmon.     All the pets have not been adopted. But your organization is sending that message to a largely uninformed community based on its decisions and logistics over the past several months.
    Mr. Swope was so very kind to donate 1 million dollars to KHS for a behavior enrichment program for high risk dogs; however I feel certain in saying, he didn't envision a behavior modification program undermining our city's adoption program and plan in its process. This is a community; pet overpopulation is a community problem. So, thank you in advance for playing your vital role in a more practical and responsible way to ensure more pets find permanent homes.

Written on behalf of Louisville's, and Kentucky's, unwanted pets.

Yours Truly,

Jessica Pita

Note: I did follow up this letter with a short, apology letter to KHS's director a few weeks after sending this. This letter is shared on my blog to 1. Inspire Activism in Others 2. Raise Awareness on the Complexity of Shelter Issues