Humane Society Board Fires Co-Directors, Multiple Employees

By Mark Geary, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS – The Cedar Valley Humane Society Board has fired co-directors Susan Manson and Sandy LaBaw and about a half-dozen staff members.

"Today's actions were quite a shock. I did not see this one coming," former co-director Susan Manson said.

Former animal control officer Jen Read said, "It was totally out of left field...We just don't know what's going to happen to the animals. I'm worried."

In the past month, two board members resigned because they did not agree with the board's decisions

The Humane Society has had seven directors in the past eight years. "This has happened repeatedly through the years and it has to stop," Read said. It's unclear why co-directors Susan Manson and Sandy LaBaw got fired. The two women say they disagreed with the board's leadership, but did nothing wrong.

"This will work out. We'll get to the bottom of it. Hopefully the animals won't be the ones to suffer," Manson said.

A group of staff members and volunteers emailed a letter to KCRG-TV9 and the Gazette on Wednesday. The letter did not include specific complaints, but expressed anxiety about the board and the shelter's future.

"We were concerned about the shelter and the direction and the animals. They're not committed to the animals," former employee Anne Gentner said, "I don't know their agenda. We never could figure it out."

Staff members who signed the letter say they got fired because board policy prohibits them from publicly speaking about internal issues. Workers feel bad about losing their jobs, but fear for their furry friends.

"I'm deeply concerned for the animals, their care and what's going to become of the shelter," Manson said.

Gentner said, "What's going to happen to the animals? None of the people there are concerned or qualified to take care of them. Who's going to feed them? Who's going to clean them?"

Just a few weeks ago, the board announced plans to hire an "executive director."

On Wednesday, board president Bernie Lettington said the new executive director would work with Manson and LaBaw. "That was never the intention of this plan...to go hire an executive director and force anybody out or replace anybody," Lettington said.

The following day, he fired Manson and LaBaw. Lettington denied requests for an interview on Thursday.

The shelter will be open today on a limited basis, but Lettington said people should call before visiting.

E-mail Mark Geary at Mark.Geary@kcrg.com or follow him on Twitter.
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