PR: The four step process, and research

The issue on the Cedar Valley Humane Society is a tricky one.  There was no way I could post anything about the Cedar Valley Humane Society until I was able to get some history on it.  This ‘organization’ has had a lot of bad press since being accused of fraud in 2001.  There have been reports of the shelter having unhealthy ventilators and keeping sick animals next to healthy ones  There was a “nasty divorce” between the contributors but that investigators were never able to prove fraud so that chapter of the CVHS is closed. As they rebuild their relationships with the community they have to understand there is a lot of hesitancy when it comes to dealing with them.  This is why I hesitated to post on it until I gathered enough information about it to do so.

The flood of 2008 didn’t help CVHS at all because it displaced a lot of animals because shelters wouldn’t allow them.   There just wasn’t enough resources to deal with the number of animals displaced.  Thankfully, Kirkwood Community College opened their doors to allow a ‘temporary animal shelter’.

I feel as if they need a “communication audit” after reading their beliefs and values I have more questions than ideas. This organization has had some ups and downs and they need to do something.   I am an ‘interested public’. I am already subscriber to the Cedar Valley Humane Society newsletter.  I poked them on Facebook and figured I would turn to the  1700 friends I have almost all of them are local and vocal.  I asked if  anyone had an opinion on the Cedar Valley Humane Society that they would like to share and the first response was from a woman that chooses to identify herself by the name “Barely Just Barely” that wrote “Not that I can share, but that there is good and bad”.  I got a text message from someone else who seems to be ‘in the know in the politics’ that said “CVHS has some history and its not good”.

So I checked out their web page and the news history and see that there has been improvement with fundraisers but I can’t get a grip on who is in charge of the whole thing! All I know is their beliefs and values conflict with a statement that was made just last month in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Beliefs & Values of the Board of Directors
All animals should be treated humanely
All companion animals should be spayed or neutered
Euthanasia is not an acceptable solution to the pet overpopulation problem
Every companion animal deserves a loving, caring home
Humans have a responsibility to care for companion animals
Cruelty to animals for the purpose of entertainment is not acceptable
Shelters should advocate for and speak out on animal welfare issues
The public has a responsibility to help solve the pet overpopulation problem
Shelters have a responsibility to provide a humane, caring environment for abandoned animals
All sick and injured animals deserve care and treatment

When their values do not ‘match’ their actions it makes it hard for them to rebuild trust with their  publics.  “I don’t think that’s out of line,” Duffy said of the euthanization rate. “Any time you’re an open admissions shelter, you’re going to have higher euthanization rates. That’s just the way it goes. You have limited resources, and those resources can only go so far.”  (Paws & effect – Under new leadership, Humane Society leaving its problems behind Gazette, The ( Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, IA) – Sunday, December 5, 2010. Author: By Steve Gravelle, The Gazette).

The media relations seem to be slowly improving but I don’t know if that will happen before their contract is up with the county.  The problem I see with them is they are “top heavy” and no one seems to know what is going on with them.

This agency needs a contingency plan for the next ‘disaster’ they undergo.

Goal: Find out who is really in charge of the CVHS

Objective: Improve public image by 1% by Friday, January 14, 2011.

Strategy: Could possibly contact Brent Oelson and Ben Rogers about the turnover and their involvement reported in the news.

Someone within the organization needs to recognize that there is not much trust by the  public.  There doesn’t seem to be any specific goal when I read through the news reports  that state “the cost of collecting and caring for rural Linn County’s stray animals will increase this year, no matter who’s doing the job”.

In order to have a good plan you should have a goal.  A goal leads to an objective which is a measurable analysis of the situation at hand.  The plan must be flexible without losing site of the main goal.  It must be realistic and values driven.  My hope is that the people in charge of the CVHS have already identified and sought help with this “PR nightmare.”


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About Ajai Dittmar

There is nothing 'radical' about wanting to save your historical neighborhood! There is nothing 'negative' for wanting an 'outside investigation' done a public service that has had a lot of embarrassing news, especially when they don't do their jobs! There is nothing 'odd' about wanting politicians to uphold the Constitution they swear to uphold when they are sworn into office! Follow @sibzianna View all posts by Ajai Dittmar

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  • margaret

    Ajai…and others, I am providing you all with some very interesting links to the investigations done by KCRG about the firings and conditions at CVHS that led to the current supervisor being hired….If people really want to know about the shelter please watch these vidoes, documents, and then form opinions based on facts…Also in the article Ajai, is a Cathey Boyes whos is my friend and actually worked as interim director out there. She now volunteers fulltime at CRACC and has been instrumental in helping me rescue dogs from there to foster.She is on Facebook and would be a good source for you.
    I wish KCRG had done a follow up, to see where they are at now, because it was not good a few years ago:

    http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/70675837.html
    http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/57036417.html
    http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/17316024.html
    http://www.easterniowanews.com/?p=13918

    Anyone and everyone can have an opinion, but unless it is supported by facts it will always just be that…YOUR OPINION! 🙂 Research and fact check!

  • Laurie

    Both local shelters should look at Dane County, WI. They separate animal control from animal sheltering. The animal control division reports to the health department. The Animal Shelter is non profit. They are adoption guarantee which means they guarantee adoption unless the animal is vicoius or seriously ill. They qualify for no kill grants because of their mission and practices. If both CVHS and CRACC would cooperate, we could obtain those grants in our community (the entire community has to be no kill). Cooperation would lower costs of maintaing two facilities. What a shame they could not combine (the supervisors sent council a request for those discussions). It would save the entire community tax dollars and donors could donate to one shelter instead of being asked to spread their dollars between two. The 10 year animal control task force looked at combining in the late 90s or early 2000’s – CRACC would have performed AC functions and CVHS would have done the shetlering (they did a much better job of placing animals at that time – no idea of statistics now). Combining was rejected because CRACC wanted to keep both functions. All non profit and government organizations should realize who they serve and upon whom they rely for funding and act accordingly.

  • Margaret

    Interestingly enough, although both managers of the only local “shelters” here in Cedar Rapids were on board for working together, it was Brett Olsen who shot this down…the same person who proposed having owners having to liscense their pets in order for the CRACC to generate more money to operate the shelter…I wonder if he is a pet owner himslef?

    http://thegazette.com/tag/brent-oleson/

    12:38 pm in Government by Steve Gravelle

    Brent Oleson
    Cedar Rapids and Linn County won’t cooperate on a jointly-run animal control operation if county supervisor Brent Oleson has anything to say about it.

    “We’d be doing the county a disservice,” Oleson said at this morning’s board meeting.

    Oleson was a member of the Linn County Task Force on Animal Control, which issued its report late Friday afternoon. The report was accompanied by a recommendation from county Public Health Director Curtis Dickson that the county and city establish a joint animal control agency.

    Oleson, who favors a regional operation by a non-profit agency, said Dickson overstepped his authority in making the recommendation. He said he was told “on numerous occasions that (the task force) isn’t going to be a recommending body,” instead simply researching organizational options.

    “It’s been hijacked,” Oleson said. “I feel excluded after I spent all that time.”

    Dickson’s recommendation came in a cover letter accompanying the report. He noted a lack of participation by communities within the county, and a ” difficulty obtaining commitments from key policy makers from the City Council of Cedar Rapids and the other various county municipalities.”

    Still, Dickson wrote, “Linn County Public Health has determined that Public Health should step forward with a ‘recommendation’” for the joint agency.

    A public meeting on the task force report is set for 4 p.m. at the Linn County Public Health offices, 501 13th St. NW.

    The task force report does note: The Task Force is not making specific recommendations on choosing a specific organizational model or to site and select animal control and welfare facilities. The Task Force believes that these are decisions best made by the elected officials. The Task Force, rather, is providing the background, information, and analysis so that the decision-making authorities can make effective choices on these matters.

    Oleson said the county is better off with its present arrangement with the Cedar Valley Humane Society. The county pays the non-profit $60,000 a year for animal control services.

  • Margaret

    Interestingly enough, although both managers of the only local “shelters” here in Cedar Rapids were on board for working together, it was Brett Olsen who shot this down…the same person who proposed having owners having to liscense their pets in order for the CRACC to generate more money to operate the shelter…I wonder if he is a pet owner himslef?

    http://thegazette.com/tag/brent-oleson/

    Linn County supervisor not pleased about joint animal control proposal
    12:38 pm in Government by Steve Gravelle

    Brent Oleson
    Cedar Rapids and Linn County won’t cooperate on a jointly-run animal control operation if county supervisor Brent Oleson has anything to say about it.

    “We’d be doing the county a disservice,” Oleson said at this morning’s board meeting.

    Oleson was a member of the Linn County Task Force on Animal Control, which issued its report late Friday afternoon. The report was accompanied by a recommendation from county Public Health Director Curtis Dickson that the county and city establish a joint animal control agency.

    Oleson, who favors a regional operation by a non-profit agency, said Dickson overstepped his authority in making the recommendation. He said he was told “on numerous occasions that (the task force) isn’t going to be a recommending body,” instead simply researching organizational options.

    “It’s been hijacked,” Oleson said. “I feel excluded after I spent all that time.”

    Dickson’s recommendation came in a cover letter accompanying the report. He noted a lack of participation by communities within the county, and a ” difficulty obtaining commitments from key policy makers from the City Council of Cedar Rapids and the other various county municipalities.”

    Still, Dickson wrote, “Linn County Public Health has determined that Public Health should step forward with a ‘recommendation’” for the joint agency.

    A public meeting on the task force report is set for 4 p.m. at the Linn County Public Health offices, 501 13th St. NW.

    The task force report does note: The Task Force is not making specific recommendations on choosing a specific organizational model or to site and select animal control and welfare facilities. The Task Force believes that these are decisions best made by the elected officials. The Task Force, rather, is providing the background, information, and analysis so that the decision-making authorities can make effective choices on these matters.

    Oleson said the county is better off with its present arrangement with the Cedar Valley Humane Society. The county pays the non-profit $60,000 a year for animal control services.

  • Margaret

    Collaborate on animal welfare
    https://cedarrapidsactivist.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/pr-the-four-step-process-and-research/#comment-130

    by The Gazette Opinion Staff :: UPDATED: 18 October 2009 | 12:44 am :: in Editorial :: 2 Comments

    Cedar Rapids’ animal control department and the Cedar Valley Humane Society both are embarking on new chapters. And we hope new leaders at both agencies will write more collaboration into their plans.

    Zach Melton took over this past week as the new executive director of the Humane Society. He led a 24-hour animal hospital in Denver, Colo., and has been working at the local agency as a consultant.

    And at month’s end, Diane P. Webber will take over as the new director at the city’s animal control department. She currently directs the central region office of the Humane Society of the United States. And last year, Webber managed an emergency shelter for hundreds of flood-displaced animals at Kirkwood Community College. She has responded to more than 30 disasters through her work with the Humane Society.

    Both new arrivals face challenges. We also think it’s a great opportunity for finding ways to collaborate.

    Melton, who is the seventh director in eight years, takes over an agency that has been rocked over the past year by financial issues, personnel dismissals and controversy spawned from those episodes. His first order of business is to stabilize the agency and rebuild its public image.

    Webber takes over just as big decisions are being made about where animal control will be housed after its facility was damaged in last year’s flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has yet to deliver its final damage award estimate. And there are hopes for a joint facility venture between the city and Kirkwood.

    Both directors say their agencies would be strengthened through cooperation.

    “I certainly hope there will be opportunities for collaboration. That’s the way I operate,” Webber said.

    Melton said finding avenues for cooperation would be “ideal.”

    “I can see that we cross paths so many times. If you’re working well together, that is one positive outcome,” Melton said.

    How that cooperation will manifest itself remains to be seen. It could be as simple as exchanging information or collaborating on training and education efforts. Webber said the concept of shared facilities shouldn’t be taken off the table.

    In these days of tight budgets and scarce resources, finding ways to bear burdens together could help both organizations and also produce more cost-efficient operations.

    Webber’s extensive track record with the Humane Society should help build that relationship.

    The most aggressive example of city-non-profit partnership can be found in Des Moines, where the cash-strapped city turned over its animal control functions to the local Animal Rescue League.

    No one is suggesting a full merger here, but clearly, cooperation is possible. Taxpaying humans and the care of animals all could benefit.

  • Margaret

    I am a person who cares very deeply about animals and although I do not know a whole lot about CVHS, I did in fact adopt my first cat from them in 2006. I have since followed the very public happenings with the firings and hirings out there and would like evryone out there to know that there is a difference between Cedar Valley Humane Society and the Cedar Rapids Animal Control and the latter is another option. Our local Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter ( CRACC), located behind Cambridge apartmets, is also a kill shelter, but after having closely worked with the staff there, and having personally rescued two dogs from the shelter, through K9KindnessRescue.Org, I know on a very personal level the amount of compassion and commitment the entire population of staff and volunteers out there has for “their” animals. Euthanasia is ALWAYS a last resort there and although they are always almost booked to the max, its because they dont ever want to put an animal down just because. They work fiercely to get animals into rescue groups or foster homes(which is what my family and I have done and are still currently doing for a sweet pitbull the shelter kept for 52 days and could have euthanized if they really were a “kill shelter” and so against pitbulls.) I will follow up any replys or questions and work to find facts to help you Ajai, if for no other reason, to raise awareness to an issue that is very dear to me….Never shop and always adopt!

    • Margaret

      This is a quote directly from Diane Webber, in a recent Gazette article about a poor woman who was attacked by dogs and the writer tried to get Webber to say it was the breed of dogs fault and I will include a link to the article http://thegazette….com/2010/12/02/strangers-come-to-aid-of-cedar-rapids-woman-attacked-by-dogs/

      Please notice that given the opportunity to put down a breed of dog that already is stigmatized, our Animal Control Director, does not go down the road so often traveled these days:

      the author states ” “The dogs that attacked Hickok were part pit bull. Some cities have banned the breed inside city limits, but Webber said the city is not considering a ban on any breed.

      “It’s not the dog; It’s the owner and whose hands they’re in,” Webber said. “I have a shelter full of put-bull mixes, and they’re not a problem.” “

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