As many as 80 protesters chanted, marched and waved signs on Sunday outside the Cedar Valley Humane Society in Cedar Rapids. In recent months, the organization’s board has fired multiple employees, sparking rumors and accusations about euthanasia practices. Cathy Boyes, one of the fired former employees, says the protest involved people with a passion for animals and a distrust of the humane society’s leadership.
“It’s our way to be the voice of those that had no choice,” Boyes says. “They are euthanizing healthy and adoptable animals.” Board members insist they’re caring for the animals and have presented statistics showing the number of animals euthanized has declined over the past few months. Long-time donor Julie Ridge says she doesn’t like what she’s hearing about the facility and the euthanizations.
Ridge says: “The board has to be accountable and the board has to do something about this and stop it because it does not need to be happening.” Protesters allege the shelter does not act as a resource or safe haven for animals in need of homes. Animal advocates believe this public outcry proves the community wants and demands a response. Humane Society Board President Bernie Lettington maintains they take excellent care of the dogs and cats at the shelter.
Lettington says, “I think there’s just a lot of people that don’t have all the facts and are jumping to some conclusions and a lot of speculation and it’s needless.” The board’s executive director Zach Melton agrees with Lettington.
Melton says, “I really don’t know where the accusations are coming from, where the heightened sense of worry is coming from.” He adds, “If they feel that passionate and feel they need to be out there raising that level of awareness around those issues, we can’t stop them.” Despite their dislike of the humane society board, protesters say they hope people continue to adopt animals from the shelter.
By Mark Geary, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids