Running Off The Best - And Response (4)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Congratulations, Chattanooga leadership.   Looks like your tunnel vision and personal political agendas culminated in the loss of Karen Walsh, executive director of Chattanooga's McKamey Animal Shelter to PetSmart. In the national world of animal welfare and common sense, Walsh is considered among the best and brightest.  

The political treatment of Walsh reminds me of the age old adage, "A prophet's prophet has no honor in his own country." During the last 10 years, Walsh has been recognized statewide and nationally for exceptional service to animal welfare by numerous independent professional groups. Many of these organizations watched her correct the poor management and financial issues the McKamey shelter encountered during its early years of operation. She turned the floundering shelter operations around and now the McKamey Center is nationally recognized for excellence. No wonder the PetSmart Charity was able to swoop in to steal her. 

Leaders, did you plot to throw your animal shelter into future crisis or were you ignorant of how critical retaining the right administrator is to operating an municipal animal shelter? Perhaps you don't know it takes a multi-talented person to run a successful "public" shelter. It's far more complicated than operating a "private" shelter. Private shelters can stop accepting stray animals when their cages are full.  Private shelter administrators do not answer to politicians who come and go. Private shelter administrators aren't bothered by fickle City Council members who do the bidding of their donor friends or the mayor's spokeswoman. They don't field the calls of screaming citizens who complain about the neighbor's barking dogs and feral cats.   

The person who runs a municipal animal shelter, subsidized by donations of wealthy donors, must have broad sturdy shoulders and a velvet touch. Those that know understand it takes a special person to pry sizable contributions from wealthy individuals, manage a budget, educate the public, keep politicians happy and cultivate a lowly paid staff to clean animal cages and capture snarling dogs. What appears to be the perfect cushy job for any animal lover, really isn't...The best administrators don't grow on trees and they don't come cheap. Much like the President of a small country or the preacher of a church, the public shelter administrator must be available 24/7.

Good luck to you, Ms. Walsh.  You deserve to be employed somewhere where you will be appreciated and respected.  Congratulations, PetSmart.  You got a real jewel in the deal.

John Pierce
Chattanooga

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Very well said, Mr. Pierce. The people in this city who love and care about animals should be very concerned about the callous, uncaring attitude that this narcissistic mayor and his administration have about animal welfare in our community. He and his entire administration are so caught up in furthering their own personal political careers and agendas that they don’t care how many citizens, or puppies and kittens, they trample along the way.

As was stated in an article last week in the Times Free Press, they never bothered to do their due diligence and whatever negative things they may be hearing from a few crazy dissidents. They out and out refused to speak to the people who can give them the true facts and figures. They have totally disregarded and ignored the people they took an oath to represent.

If he is going to continue to lead the city with this narrow-minded, uninformed, dictatorial attitude, we are in very big trouble and I can't imagine how much more damage he's going to do during the next 3-1/2 years. If this new administration would so blatantly disregard one of Chattanooga's biggest success stories (the McKamey Center’s return from the brink of disaster under Ms. Walsh’s leadership) they obviously do not have the best interest of Chattanooga, its citizens or animals, at heart!.

Shame on you, Mr. Mayor, for allowing this to happen.

Clayton Stone

Chattanooga 

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Congratulations, Mr. Pierce and Mr. Stone, you got it in one. This new administration, which we all had so much faith in and hope for, has turned out to be as bad as the previous one. When you listen to the squeaky wheel and give them grease, this is what you get.  

One of the most well respected individuals in animal welfare will leave our city's shelter because she was offered a national position with one of the country's best known and most respected animal welfare organizations and we will be the losers. This administration has harassed and threatened the Center's executive director and board and helped make Ms. Walsh's leaving so much easier for her. Why would that happen? What do they want that they are not getting for their contract for animal control? 

The board has been in disarray for over a year thanks to current and past board members who have forgotten why they are there. They no longer think of the animals and their welfare. They only think of their selfish desire to embarrass and destroy the board and executive director. I know several board members and I know they will find a good ED to replace Ms. Walsh but what a shame for our city.  

When Walsh took over the Center was over $400,000 in the red and she turned it around in a year or so.  She and her staff have taken a city that had over an 80 percent euthanasia rate for stray animals and turned it around enough that over 70 percent of all the animals they bring in leave that place alive. From over 80 percent to under 30 percent in less than five years. What else did you want, Mr. Mayor? 

Best of luck, Ms. Walsh, I know you will rise to the top of PetSmart Charities, at least they know a winner when they see one unlike our mayor and is myopic administration.

Jeanne Harte 

* * * 

Mayor Berke is doing the right thing checking into McKamey Animal Center.  Not everyone in Chattanooga thinks Karen Walsh is doing the best for the animals of Chattanooga.   I applaud all the good McKamey has done; however, there have been a lot of missed opportunities and mistakes.  I think the Board and Ms. Walsh sometimes worry more about the looks and money of the shelter than the animals.  

I always ask people with a rescue to not take it to McKamey.  Personally I would rather see Ms. Walsh in a big corporation than taking care of our animals in Chattanooga. 

Vicki Hill
Hixson 

* * *

There are certainly plenty of folks speaking out vociferously concerning this Karen Walsh hullabaloo. I'm sure there's much more to it than meets the eye, but it seems like all that's happening is the mayor's office is auditing the McKamey Animal Center, probably in response to all of the shenanigans of that last revenge-minded favor-giving mayor.  

So now several board members have resigned and Ms. Walsh is taking a plum (and possibly higher paying) position with a national company? Lots of departments get audited, and if you have nothing to hide, why resign? I feel certain Ms. Walsh has been seeking other employment opportunities for some time, since I wouldn't expect you just snap your fingers and change jobs at that salary level.  

At any rate, it's too bad she couldn't have stayed, weathered the audit and proved the mayor's office wrong, thereby coming out of this fiasco a winner instead of a quitter. 

Herb Montgomery
Chattanooga


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