Gwendolynn Guthrie thought that getting help placing the three stray kittens and severely ill mother cat she found abandoned on her property, and couldn’t care for, would be a straightforward matter.
The Hillsboro resident called the Highland County Humane Society, but she said that she was placed on a waiting list. Frustrated, Guthrie turned to social media and, while the mother cat’s condition deteriorated to the point where she had to be euthanized, Guthrie said that Brad Adams, from the Fayette County Regional Humane Society, eventually reached out to her and was able to arrange placement for the surviving kittens.
Guthrie said, “I truly believe that my situation would not have changed and I would have continued to get the runaround,” had she not posted repeatedly about her experiences with the Humane Society. That included preparing and presenting a presentation to their governing board regarding her ideas for implementing various administrative improvements, which she said was generally well received, on social media.
Others, such as Highland County resident Shelly Feltner, have also posted, with varying degrees of success, about their need for assistance when overwhelmed with stray animals. Feltner said that stray animals are frequently abandoned on her property and that, “they deserve to be in loving homes and be a part of a family.”
Penny Miller, Highland County Humane Society Board of Directors president, said that while she recognizes the public’s frustration when it comes to apparent shortcomings of local animal welfare entities to meet needs that often exceed available resources, “all the changes currently happening at the Humane Society” are such that the public may not understand, and have been misconstrued in the midst of social media conversations.
Miller said in a December interview that, “Myself and (board member) Sarah (Roe) were on the board since January 2021,” but their newness and inexperience at the time impeded the process. “We were new,” she explained, “didn’t have much to say.” She said that she and Roe had to endeavor to understand, “the process and procedure that surrounds a 501(c)(3)” nonprofit organization.
Miller pointed to alleged inadequacies of administrative predecessors at the society and claimed, “The past administrations did not have bylaws in place that we knew of or an employee handbook. These things and financial reporting are required to apply for any type of funding.”
Miller said that, “In September of 2021, the existing board members decided to step down because the responsibility of the shelter was becoming overwhelming and they had other family obligations.”
Miller said that with, “the official start of the new board, significant strides toward the overall improvement” of the society have been made.
Miller cited planned community events, fundraising, and social media updates as a few of the improvements that have been implemented.
“We do the best we can with what we have,” said Miller.
Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.