Humane Society fires Farley for 'terribly negligent' dealing with of lacking small pets

Steve Farley, the CEO of the native Humane Society, has been fired and his second in command pushed out within the wake of greater than 250 small animals going unaccounted for after being transferred from the San Diego Humane Society in August.

As an alternative of being adopted out to Tucson-area households, greater than 300 pets have been despatched to a bunch related to a reptile farm in Maricopa County that raises turtles and snakes. The fates of greater than 250 are nonetheless unknown by Humane Society of Southern Arizona officers.

Farley’s firing was introduced Thursday morning by Robert Garcia, the legal professional who chairs HSSAZ’s board.

Farley was “terminated” and Christian Gonzalez, the chief packages officer on the personal Tucson animal shelter who oversaw the switch, had his resignation accepted, as a result of their “terribly negligent actions towards the Humane Society” and “failure to observe protocols,” Garcia instructed reporters.

Garcia mentioned that the HSSAZ board of administrators will proceed the “formal unbiased investigation” they started final Tuesday, and mentioned the group will “make public a model of the report, and we’ll embody as a lot info as we will” when it’s accomplished.

“With respect to illegalities, that is one thing we’re involved with,” he mentioned, however did not present any particulars.

The HSSAZ board would not have any info to confirm or disprove the suspicions unfold amongst native animal activists that the animals have been used as meals for snakes, Garcia instructed reporters.

“We’re doing every thing potential to get as a lot information as we will,” he mentioned.

“We weren’t capable of confirm that these animals have been really adopted out, or what occurred to them,” the board chair mentioned.

Farley — a frequent political candidate and public artist along with his nonprofit government work —was employed because the CEO of HSSAZ in February 2020. Gonzales spent 12 years with the group, the HSSAZ web site mentioned.

Farley didn’t reply to the Tucson Sentinel’s request for remark Thursday morning.

At problem are tons of of small animals that the Humane Society of San Diego transferred to the Southern Arizona group in early August, with the intention of getting them adopted out to everlasting houses.

As an alternative, the animals have been shipped to a “personal family-run group” in Maricopa County, as was first reported by Arizona Public Media, and workers and supporters of the California rescue group weren’t happy with the restricted info they obtained concerning the placement of the animals.

The enterprise related to that group, the Fertile Turtle, has not responded to the Sentinel’s requests for remark. The enterprise, which has posted snakes on the market at costs of as much as $2,000, has deactivated its social media pages for the reason that controversy started.

There have been 318 animals despatched from San Diego to Tucson, together with rats, mice, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. The California group mentioned on August 8 that they undertook the “mass transport — the most important in San Diego Humane Society’s historical past” — to alleviate strain on overcrowded shelters.

The small pets had “a brand new probability at discovering loving households,” the San Diego group mentioned in an August 8 press launch touting the transfer.

“HSSAZ has a low stock of small pets out there for adoption and also will work with their native rescue companions to put these deserving pets into houses,” the California animal group mentioned,” saying they have been “so very grateful” for HSSAZ taking the animals “and giving them a second probability in Arizona.”

However quickly after, SDHS representatives started asking for details about the adoptions of the animals. Among the many animals have been 70 rabbits who have been microchipped. However the registration knowledge for these chips was not up to date, they mentioned.

Not being supplied with a lot information, they started to push HSSAZ for extra, and by September 18 the San Diego group was utilizing attorneys to push for solutions:

We’re demanding the next:

Full Accountability: We request an accounting of all animals
transferred out of the care of HSSA to an unidentified rescue, together with
the animals that have been finally transferred again to HSSA. This
accounting should embody the names and get in touch with info for the rescue
group(s) and related people that obtained custody or possession
of any of the animals, in addition to an identification of the end result of
each animal with supporting documentation.

Finish of Baseless
Allegations: HSSA should stop making unsubstantiated claims that the
switch aimed to alleviate the struggling of the animals in our care and
that they have been prone to euthanasia. There isn’t a foundation for these
claims which were made to HSSA workers, volunteers, Board of Administrators
and the general public. On the contrary, since 2015, SDHS has ensured that no
wholesome or treatable shelter animal in San Diego County is prone to
euthanasia.

Every week later, SDHS mentioned {that a} response from the Tucson group “didn’t meet our expectations when it comes to offering the required info relating to the outcomes of the small animals in query,” and that the California animal rescue was contemplating a lawsuit.

Final Friday, the HSSAZ board suspended Farley and Gonzales, after beginning a personal investigation of the scenario on Tuesday.

The Maricopa County group instructed the board that 254 of the small animals had been adopted out, HSSAZ mentioned final week. “As individuals who care deeply about animals, we perceive effectively the numerous curiosity in making certain the animals are OK,” the group mentioned on the time.

63 animals have been returned to the Tucson group, with 24 of them being returned to California. All however three of the remaining have been adopted out in Tucson, HSSAZ mentioned final week.

Thursday, the San Diego group responded to the firing and resignation by calling them “vital steps.”

“We be part of the HSSA board in recognizing this isn’t the top of the matter and can proceed to pursue definitive proof concerning the standing of the lacking animals,” SDHS mentioned. “We respect the popularity from HSSA Board Chair Robert Garcia that San Diego Humane Society was not liable for the actions of HSSA’s former leaders who violated the belief of each communities.”

Farley ‘within the canine home’

Whereas Garcia introduced that Farley and Gonzales have been now not HSSAZ workers on Thursday, they each have been nonetheless listed on the group’s web site — pointing to the abruptness of the transfer.

Farley served as a state consultant after which senator from Tucson, leaving the Legislature due to time period limits. He was named Humane Legislator of the Yr  a number of occasions. Referred to as a lot for his public artwork tasks — together with the tiled photographic murals on the Broadway entrance to Downtown — he pursued unsuccessful major campaigns for Arizona governor and Tucson mayor.

When he was employed 3.5 years in the past, he mentioned he “could not be happier to be within the canine home.”

Gonzales labored for the native Humane Society for 12 years, based on the group’s web site.

Because the COO of the group, he was “a driving drive over the previous 16 months to assist discover higher methods to take care of the pets needing short-term shelter,” HSSAZ’s website mentioned.

“His different true ardour is spending his time caring for and rescuing reptiles. He has been concerned within the rescue and placement of tons of of reptiles nationwide,” the location mentioned.

‘Now we have plenty of work to do’

Garcia mentioned “we will do higher” and “we have now plenty of work to do” to regain neighborhood belief.

The controversy has affected donations to the Humane Society, he mentioned. HSSAZ has a public counterpart within the Pima County Animal Care Middle, which has a nonprofit fundraising arm.

“If it prices cash to unravel this, we’re dedicated to that,” he mentioned.

The brothers who run the Phoenix-area animal adoption operation and Fertile Turtle — Trevor Jones and Colten Jones — have been speaking “to some extent,” however have not been absolutely clear, Garcia mentioned.

He instructed reporters that they’ve obtained some images of animals, however have not been capable of decide in the event that they’re of the pets from San Diego, and do not know the destiny of any particular animals.

Garcia mentioned it’s “typical to switch” animals to exterior teams, however “we later realized it was not typical to switch animals in such a big amount.”

Whereas the Jones brothers instructed HSSAZ that 254 animals had been positioned, they supplied “no information of adoption,” he mentioned.

The HSSAZ board didn’t study of the involvement of Colten Jones — the proprietor of the reptile farm — till Friday, he mentioned. Farley and Gonzales have been positioned on depart that day, partially to make sure individuals might present info with out concern of retaliation, the group mentioned Saturday.

The HSSAZ board “found that Trevor Jones was merely a person who routinely facilitated animal adoptions, primarily by means of private relationships at his church and locally and was not a licensed rescue operation,” he mentioned.

Garcia mentioned that the group’s “passionate workers had nothing to do with” the switch of the animals to Phoenix, and that there have been “relentless threats to workers’s psychological and bodily well-being.”

The “poor judgment” of the “former management” has “threatened the continued work of our group,” Garcia instructed reporters.

The San Diego group mentioned they’re “happy” by Farley and Gonzales now not being on the head of HSSAZ.

“We hope to achieve details about the lacking animals as rapidly as potential so all events can transfer ahead in our lifesaving work. SDHS is happy that the board has held Steve Farley and Christian Gonzalez accountable for his or her actions. Whereas important questions nonetheless stay, we urge everybody within the animal welfare neighborhood to acknowledge the great work that HSSA has supplied for his or her neighborhood and, we count on, will proceed to supply. This incident, whereas deeply disturbing, is just not indicative of the work of most of the devoted workers, volunteers and board members who’re there for the animals of the Tucson neighborhood,” the group mentioned.