Humane Society and detractors must be more forthcoming | In Our Opinion

It’s hard to know for sure what’s going on these days with the Kitsap Humane Society, because the entire board of directors seems to be lying low since the nonprofit’s executive director left suddenly and an online petition leveled accusations of mismanagement. (See story here).

It’s not even clear who’s in charge right now, and that’s unacceptable at an organization that receives a big chunk of public funding to provide animal control services.

Kitsap Humane Society has contracts for hundreds of thousands of dollars with the county and its cities; the City of Poulsbo paid $26,433 to the Humane Society in 2011 for animal control, pet licensing and other services. The city has $22,490 budgeted for Humane Society services in 2012.

It’s money that seems to be at the root of the mismanagement alleged in the online petition, which apparently has collected more than 250 electronic signatures.

But the origin of this petition also is not as clear as it should be. There are no named sponsors or organizers, though the petition claims to represent donors to the Humane Society, its staff and volunteers, and taxpayers.

The petition alleges misuse of tax and donor dollars; cronyism in choosing contractors for construction projects; tampering with board meeting minutes; and the ignoring or stifling of staff complaints about financial management.

Who knows whether there’s any basis to the claims and demands in the petition, or if these folks are barking up the wrong tree. But the public should know what’s going on at this organization. If board members are cavalierly evading all inquiries from stakeholders, county officials and media, then they should be more forthcoming, and without any more stalling.

Transparency isn’t just a political cliché. The Humane Society needs to explain the circumstances of its executive director’s abrupt departure, and address issues raised by the petition.

The directors of this agency can’t just hunker down and avoid controversy, and they shouldn’t muzzle their own staff from discussing what’s going on.


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