Archive for the ‘SPCA Tampa Bay’ Category

Boden’s Path of Destruction Continues

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

A recent article in the IBJ announced the retirement of Humane Society of Indianapolis CEO John Aleshire. Mr. Aleshire is to be commended for turning around an agency that had been brought to its knees both morally and financially by its previous CEO, Martha Boden.

The organization was operating at a deficit and saddled with $3.1 million in debt—a considerable amount considering that its annual budget was $3 million.
Internal morale and public perception were poor. The organization’s animal shelter euthanized 40 to 50 percent of the animals it took in, sometimes for reasons as fixable as kennel cough or a broken bone. Its previous CEO had been asked to resign.

“It was just not a place that was well thought of,” Aleshire said.

Sadly, directors at the SPCA Tamp Bay have allowed Ms Boden to continue her journey of self-enrichment at the expense of an agency whose founding was to serve animals in need, not people of greed.

A Pinellas County resident recently reviewed the last 2015 tax return and the findings are telling:

SPCA Tampa Bay Fiscal Irresponsibility Continues

Under the continuing misdirection of SPCA Tampa Bay Executive Director Martha Boden, the agency that is supposed to be a community leader in animal safety has failed the public and the welfare of the animals that they are supposed to save.

FACTS from their recently published 2015 IRS Tax Return (7/1/2014-6/30/2015):

Contributions down $517,722 from last reporting year (7/1/2013-6/30/2014) with total revenue down $1,779,180

– Yet Expenses remained about the same ($4,014,880) for a reported loss of -$1,283,452

– And their Fund Balance is down $1,435,507, Assets down $500,261, Liabilities up $935,246

– Yet the Executive Director received a 1.5% raise, which increased her salary to $119,738

– Yet the number of Volunteers is down while paid employees are up by 18% (19 employees)

– Yet $650,833 was paid for Fundraising purposes, with $162,220 going to a marketing firm and $38,944 spent on fundraising events that only netted $113,347 (that doesn’t even pay the Director’s salary)

– With reported Advertising and Promotion costs of $183,898

– Yet they continue to maintain a Management Team of 14 individuals

– And how much went to food, supplies and medicine for the animals? A paltry $285,001 – less than half the total spent on fundraising!

So what did they do with the $2,731,428 of contributions they received?

Who knows? They once again reduced their transparency by foregoing an independent audit, a gauge by Guidestar of transparency and of course a standard for ensuring sound fiscal operations. No reduction in Upper Management, no salaries reported other that Martha Boden’s. Even the veterinarian’s salary is not reported, although it was in 2013 and before.

And what is the new Limited Liability Company established 1/31/2013?

What is STB Ventures, LLC #46-2185547
, doing under the SPCA with Martha Boden as the Registered Agent and Board members listed as interested investing partners?

Is there a shell game going on? Are public donations being diverted to the development of a For-Profit clinic in St. Petersburg that only takes business away from already-established veterinarians?

SPCA Animal Statistics for 2015 – Of 2302 Canines – 418 either died in care or were euthanized; a Live Release Rate of 75%. For YTD 8/31/2016 – Of 1,521 Canines, 208 either died in care or were euthanized; a Live Release Rate of 83%. 36 felines died in care, with 515 euthanized – a Live Release Rate of 68%.

LEARN MORE at our Facebook page: SPCA Tampa Bay Behind the Kennel Doors

NOT walking to support the animals

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

The email began —

“Hello Fellow Friend of the Animals,

The SPCA Tampa Bay’s 26th Annual Pet Walk is just 15 days away! On behalf of the 1,000 Bitches, I am asking you to consider walking and joining our team or making a donation to us….”

Below is the courageous response sent by a former volunteer.

“Please join you at an event for an organization that has abandoned the needs of the animals in Pinellas County who need the most help? I will not!

“Join you at an event for an organization that pays its director a six-figure salary while positions have been eliminated that provided help to animals in need? I will not!

“Join you at an event that supports an organization that has ended the lives of many animals who would have made perfect pets in the homes of Pinellas County residents? I will not!

“Join you at a fundraiser for an organization that fired volunteers who provided animal care equating to over a half a million dollars annually? I will not!

“I can only pray that a rain pours all day on St Petersburg on October 8th and this event is cancelled.

“Yes, I am a friend of the animals of Pinellas County. I have four rescue dogs, two having come from SPCA Tampa Bay. Because of my commitment to the animals, it is impossible for me to join you at an event supporting an organization that would rather raise money to pay salaries than use the funds where they are needed most — TO HELP THE ANIMALS IN NEED!

“I am not able to support you in memory of Flash. Did you attend the 1,000 Bitches meeting at SPCA Tampa Bay in May 2013? Flash was the cute little corgi mix who was used in a training demonstration. He was able to sit on a towel with just 2 minutes of clicker training. Ask Martha Boden what happened to Flash; he was euthanized by SPCA Tampa Bay because he was there too long.

“I am not able to support you in memory of Santana. Ask Martha Boden about Santana; she arrived at SPCA Tampa Bay late in 2013, pregnant. SPCA Tampa Bay allowed her to carry her puppies almost full term, then spayed her, aborted the puppies and euthanized them. Santana was put up for adoption the day after her spaying, was adopted the next day — and passed away three weeks later.

“I am not able to support you in memory of Buddy. Buddy was a gorgeous yellow lab that arrived at SPCA Tampa Bay in the spring of 2013 to find his forever home. He spent the entire summer there, and as a canine volunteer, I walked him first each day I was there and last before I left. My husband and I lost a dog to cancer in July 2013 before we were leaving on vacation. I took my husband over to meet Buddy before we left, but did not think if would be fair to Buddy to adopt him and then leave on an extended vacation. My husband and I told Buddy if he was still there when we got back, we would be his forever family. I regret this decision every day…. Buddy was euthanized when we were gone because he had been there all summer. Ask Martha Boden how she sleeps at night knowing a pet has been killed just because……….

“I am not able to support you because of the hundreds if not thousands of other animals that have lost their lives at the hands of SPCA Tampa Bay — an organization that should be saving rather than killing. Ask Martha Boden about the kill statistics at SPCA Tampa Bay and how they compare to other animal welfare organizations.

“How many major donors have you lost due to the changes made at SPCA Tampa Bay by Martha Boden, CEO? I remember the Pet Walk when Rogan and Associates was the presenting sponsor and we counted the money in their motor home. Ask Martha Boden why you no longer see the Rogan and Associates motor home at the Pet Walk.

“An organization of 1,000 females, and only 10 have signed up to support this event? Ask yourself why you are not able to get women to support this event and organization.

“When will the Board of Directors, employees and groups like the 1,000 Bitches (of which I was previously a member) take a stand for the animals of Pinellas County and demand a change of leadership at SPCA Tampa Bay? THAT IS WHEN I WILL JOIN YOU AT THE PET WALK, AND NOT ONE DAY EARLIER!

“I’m just one person, but many together can make a difference. If you truly want to make a difference in the lives of the animals of Pinellas County, check out the Facebook page for SPCA Tampa Bay Behind The Kennel Doors.”

Amy Ulrich

Again, mtA asks….When will they get the message?

# # #

Below is the full email:

Date: September 26, 2016 at 2:05:35 PM EDT
Subject: Please join me for the SPCA Tampa Bay Pet Walk–Saturday, October 8, 2016
Hello Fellow Friend of the Animals,

The SPCA Tampa Bay’s 26th Annual Pet Walk is just 15 days away! On behalf of the 1,000 Bitches, I am asking you to consider walking and joining our team or making a donation to us. We need 15 more team members to reach our goal of 25 and to help us exceed our team fundraising goal of $3,000.

This year’s Pet Walk will be held in the beautiful Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday, October 8th. The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and the walk starts at 10:00 a.m.

It’s easy to register! Just go to and click on the Register tab. Select Join a team and choose 1,000 Bitches.

I look forward to seeing everyone there!


Maria Walkiewicz

Charity Navigator’s new tool helps donors compare charities; SPCA/TB 7th among 8

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

sheep in wolf

Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most-used evaluator of charities, has helped millions of donors determine whether the organizations to which they give are using their donations responsibly. CN recently introduced a feature called “Sector Analyzer,” which allows you to compare charities within a particular category, region, state or financial strata. Here’s how it works.

Go to Charity Navigator

At the top of the home page, right side, click on “Tips for Donors.” A heading called “Tips and Resources” appears on the upper left.

Scroll to the bottom of that menu bar at the left of the page under “Tips & Resources” and click on “Sector Analyzer.”

You may filter your search by category, region, state, and more. For example, we entered:
Category: Animals
Cause: Animal rights, welfare, & services
Region: South
State: Florida
Total expenses: All

Click “submit.” When the page refreshes scroll down.

The results that appear provide the average score for all rated charities fitting those criteria (in this case, 8 charities.) Fifteen categories are scored, including overall “financial,” “accountability and transparency,” “CEO salary,” “administrative expenses,” and “fundraising efficiency.”

Below that, you’ll see the top five and the bottom five charities. SPCA Tampa Bay is next to last, with 2 out of 4 stars.

Donors have a right to know

You can click on the charity’s name to see how the score was determined. The key categories are “financial performance” and “accountability/transparency.” In the case of SPCA/TB, three red flags strongly affected the “Accountability & Transparency” score:

• Failure to have audited financials prepared by an independent accountant
• No donor privacy policy
• Audited financials from the most recently filed Form 990 not present on the organization’s website

CN notes that “It is important for donors to have easy access to this financial report [audited financials] to help determine if the organization is managing its financial resources well.”

We suspect that longtime donors to SPCA/TB, who knew the organization in its pre-Martha Boden days when its reputation was respectable, are appalled by what’s happening there now.

(Incidentally, only charities with an annual income above $50,000 are rated by Charity Navigator. move to ACT is not rated because, as a smaller charity, we file the abbreviated 990 form as required by the IRS.)

Q: What kind of nonprofit can operate without volunteers?

Monday, July 11th, 2016


A: One whose true agenda differs from its stated mission. Or one that has no mission statement at all.

SPCA Tampa Bay’s website shows no mission statement. It lists 12 “volunteer opportunities”, such as Behavior Enrichment Assistant, Pet Photographer, Dog Walker, Canine/Feline Adoption Counselor. Each describes exciting ways in which the volunteer can help advance the welfare of shelter pets.

And except for two, each description ends with
Currently, we are not accepting any volunteer applications.

There’s a category entitled Junior Volunteer Opportunities. It’s not accepting volunteers.

Special Events Volunteer says “volunteer opportunities coming soon”.

Those court-ordered to community service can still fulfill their obligation at SPCA/TB, so long as their charges don’t involve a felony, assault, domestic violence, theft, or controlled substances. Charges related to animal abuse or neglect aren’t mentioned.

No volunteers means no one’s watching

Caring volunteers have been a thorn in the side of CEO Martha Boden’s agenda for SPCA/TB from the start. Many have bravely tried to alert the public to the killing and mistreatment happening at SPCA/TB, and were dismissed for their efforts. Now, according to the Facebook page SPCA Tampa Bay Behind the Kennel Doors, the organization is phasing out its volunteers and plans to use them only for special events.

Such events, of course, are designed to generate donations and build SPCA/TB’s brand. They have nothing to do with caring for the animals.

Without volunteers, how does a shelter socialize frightened animals and prepare them for adoption? How does it help people choose a new pet? How does it reunite lost pets with their families? How does it train dogs to be good canine citizens?

Obviously, it doesn’t. Obviously, accomplishing these goals is not an SPCA/TB priority.

Martha Boden’s chamber of horrors

Monday, July 4th, 2016

It seems death follows Martha Boden wherever she goes. The latest horror stories to emerge from SPCA Tampa Bay, where Boden reigns as CEO, involve a lost and injured 10-year-old Chihuahua and a healthy 2-year-old cat who died from a botched operation.

RIP, Prince

Ten-year-old Prince was playing with his family in a Clearwater park when he wandered off. When she was unable to locate him, Lakkia Hobbs, who’s had Prince since he was 8 weeks old, submitted a missing pet report to all the area shelters. A representative from SPCA/TB found Prince soon after. He had apparently been hit by a car.

SPCA’s vet, whose medical prowess has been previously questioned, determined the dog was too badly injured and ended his life. No attempt was made to contact Hobbs.

Prince had no tags or microchip. “We didn’t have any information about the animal’s owner at that time,” Boden said.

Why did no one bother to check the lost pet information they were given by Hobbs?

It’s not the first time

The night Prince died, SPCA/TB posted his picture on their website. Hobbs saw it and called. She says she was told her dog was still there, but when she went to get Prince, she was told he was dead.

“That’s my baby,” a tearful Hobbs said. “I would have done whatever I needed to do to save his life.”

Martha Boden told a reporter for WFLA News that the dog was too severely injured to be treated. Yet a photo from SPCA/TB’s website shows him being carried without the support that would be essential for a critically injured animal.
A similar tragedy occurred in 2006, when Boden was Executive Director of the Humane Society of Indianapolis.

RIP, Smokey

A beautiful, healthy 2-year-old cat, Smokey had delivered a litter of healthy kittens. When enough time had passed, her foster mom took her to SPCA/TB to be spayed. Shortly thereafter, Smokey was adopted.

Her new family soon noticed that Smokey was dehydrated and in severe pain. They rushed her to an emergency vet and learned she was suffering from a severe infection and apparent neglect in the surgical process. They consulted a total of three vets, two specializing in emergencies.

In discussing Smokey’s spay surgery, the term “butchered” was used more than once. Evidence suggested a foreign object might have been left inside her body.

Smokey died soon after. Her adopters and her foster mom want to know why a simple surgery was so badly mishandled that it cost the life of this sweet, smart cat. But of course, they can’t get a straight answer.

What power does Martha Boden have — and over whom — that she can maintain her own personal chamber of horrors while NO ONE investigates?

Follow the horror story here.

Martha Boden, SPCA/TB CEO, appointed to Board of Governors

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

An Open Letter to the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce

LYNN CISSNA, Admin Rockstar
LINDA HART PUNZAK, VP Finance/Operations
IVORY BLACKWOOD, Finance & Administrative Coordinator
TRAVIS NORTON, Advocacy Manager
SEAN KENNEDY, Economic Development Manager
CARLY HELLIESEN, Greenhouse Coordinator
ANNIE POLING, Membership Concierge
MICHELE STONE, Membership Development Manager
BRITTANY WALSH, Member Program Manager
MORGAN BROCHETTI, Marketing Coordinator
NATALIE FISHER, Event Coordinator
KRISTINA ALSPAW, Visitors Experience Manager

The animal welfare communities, donors, and pet care providers of Indianapolis, IN and Pinellas County, FL were shocked and saddened to learn that Martha Boden, CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay, has been appointed to your Board of Governors. As you are obviously unaware, Boden left behind excessive debt, poor medical practices, and a seriously damaged program when she was relieved of her duties as CEO of the Humane Society of Indianapolis in 2008.

Her successor at HSI noted that the organization’s debt had increased by more than $3 million, staff training was severely lacking, no one on staff was effectively trained to assess a dog’s behavior, and entire rooms full of kennels were empty and being used for storage.

During Boden’s tenure at the Humane Society of Indianapolis, HSI
• Instituted an appointment-only surrender policy
• Dismissed longtime, dedicated volunteers and staff members, having some escorted off the property to sheriff’s cars
• Stopped accepting strays and began importing more desirable dogs from other sources, even out of state
• Increased adoption fees, especially for highly adoptable puppies and small dogs
• Borrowed excessively against the shelter’s endowment, resulting in increased debt of more than $3 million
• Redesigned its website and corporate identity
• Told a man whose elderly lost dog had been taken to HSI that the dog was not there while, in fact, the dog had been killed with no effort made to contact the owner at either number engraved on the dog’s collar
• Left dozens of kennels empty while homeless animals were routinely being killed for space at the overcrowded municipal shelter

That pattern has continued. During Boden’s tenure, SPCA/TB has
• Instituted an appointment-only surrender policy, enabling SPCA/TB to selectively choose animals it will accept
• Told longtime, dedicated volunteers not to return
• Fired a qualified behaviorist with 20 years of experience and hired one with no experience who obtained certification through an online course
• Increased staff salaries, added staff positions, and decreased revenue
allocated to animal care
• Eliminated extremely popular community programs such as Family Dog Training and Canine Good Citizen training
• Charged a family $400 to reclaim its lost dog, stating in front of the family’s children that if the fee wasn’t paid, the dog would be probably be killed
• Charged a woman $200 to reclaim a lost cat who was at SPCA/TB for 10 days before the owner was notified, threatening that the cat would be killed unless she paid up
• Coldly informed a grieving pet owner that his beloved dog’s ashes had been dumped in the landfill
• Spent more than $259,000 in donor dollars to hire a high-profile ad agency to create new branding, a revised website, and a new logo that looks deceptively similar to that of the highly respected Best Friends Animal Society
• Found no conflict of interest in the fact that the organization’s pro bono attorney is a trophy hunter who says he finds shooting animals “incredibly fun”
• Left rows of kennels empty while Pinellas County Animal Services is constantly full

You will find details about these and other actions on our blog,

In this position, Martha Boden’s past performance will be defining the character of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Is this acceptable to the current members? Is this fair to the reputation of the community? Please reconsider this appointment

What it takes for evil to triumph

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015


To paraphrase a popular and true adage, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing”.

Looking at the ongoing situation at SPCA Tampa Bay, one might wonder who CAN do something to restore compassion and quality animal care to this organization.

Since Martha Boden became CEO of SPCA/TB in 2011 after leaving the Humane Society of Indianapolis, concern for the animals has steadily deteriorated while administrative salaries climb. Outrageous fees limit adoptions, and obscene charges to reclaim lost pets dooms many to death for days without medical care.

Kennels are empty while other area shelters are overflowing. Compassion for sick and injured animals is nonexistent and phone calls are not returned.

Who can do something? As mtA has repeatedly pointed out, the Board of Directors whose silence continues to support these actions bears as much responsibility as Boden herself. Who are the individuals who make up the BOD?

Marilyn Hulsey, President
Chris Allen, Past President
Jim McGinty, Secretary
John Ralph, VP of Finance & Treasurer
Lyndy Jennings, VP of Development
Jonathan Browy, VP of Governance
Tara Miller, VP of Facilities
Michele Egerter
Jessica Eilerman
Rita Peterman

But since they have so far proven themselves unable or unwilling to step up and do the right thing, one must wonder…..

Where are the investigative reporters?

Why has the Tampa Bay media ignored reports from former staff members and citizen complaints? In May of 2014, WFLA Channel 8 began an investigation which was quickly and mysteriously quashed.

Why is no newspaper or TV station interested in the fact that SPCA/TB has a rating of only 2 out of 4 stars by Charity Navigator, a highly respected rating service consulted by many potential donors?

The Pinellas County news media is encouraged to take a look at the Facebook page Behind the Kennel Doors. Because good CAN do something, if only it will.

Or has true investigative reporting been banned by media management?

Money trail demonstrates how donors are exploited by SPCA Tampa Bay

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Follow the money

Follow the money. And the actions. They will lead directly to the misallocation of resources at SPCA Tampa Bay.

Before Martha Boden, former CEO of the Humane Society of Indianapolis, took the helm at SPCA/TB, the mission statement read:

Protect and shelter the sick and the injured, the homeless, and the unwanted animals.
Find loving, new homes for homeless animals.
Educate the public concerning the humane care of all animals.
Assist in the enforcement of laws and ordinances for animal protection.

According to long-time volunteers, the agency’s services reflected that — until Boden took over in July of 2011.

To bring the agency in line with her agenda, Boden changed the mission statement to:

We improve our community by promoting humane care, preventing animal cruelty and reducing pet overpopulation

A local activist was asked what the agency is doing to live up to this new mission statement. The response:

“Nothing. They don’t go anywhere to make presentations, or to schools to educate about humane care or to prevent animal cruelty. You know how they reduce pet overpopulation, by aborting puppies and euthanizing dogs with the smallest of issues that are deemed to not meet their adoption criteria.

“They think by opening up that multi-million dollar clinic, that’s going to help the pet overpopulation in the community and keep pets in the home. We already have plenty of those clinics, and the shelters are still bursting at the seams. Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco County Animal Services are totally full and offering free adoptions, and SPCA sits there with their empty kennels. And Martha boasts that animal intake is down. I’d like to know where? It may be down, but not enough to keep the shelters from still having to euthanize for space. To me, that’s no sign of progress.”

Who benefits? Not the animals

Boden’s talent for taking control of and exploiting an agency for the personal gain of a select few was obvious during her time at HSI. She is equally adept at misallocating contributions. Sadly, this is allowed to continue unabated at SPCA/TB. The agency’s 2014 990 tax return indicates Boden’s salary and benefits totaled $122,600. Director of Business Administration Bibi Shaffer Goeddert was compensated $71,000 in salary and benefits. The year’s contract with Chapell Roberts Media Group, LLC, a local marketing and communications firm retained to “build the brand”, totaled $259,628.

That is a lot of donor money to promote an image and maintain the charade.

The hoodwinking continues with smiles and handshakes, while SPCA kennels remain as empty as the character of the administration and board of directors.

* * *

See what the current HSI director, John Aleshire, had to say about HSI when he took over after Boden’s termination, here.

The legacy of an empty collar

Monday, September 28th, 2015


An empty collar. It represents a beloved family member who has passed away, and a sad heart. It also seems to be an image that is increasingly associated with the legacy of former Humane Society of Indianapolis CEO Martha Boden, now CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay.

Recently, Pinellas County (FL) funeral director Daniel Miller made the painful decision to euthanize Casino, his family’s beloved 14-year-old dog, who was declining steadily and suffering. He made the arrangements with SPCA/TB and completed the paperwork to have Casino cremated individually and the remains returned to him.

Instead, Casino was cremated along with several other animals and the ashes were disposed of in the county landfill.

“Tossed him in the garbage. I felt that’s exactly what they told me,” a heartbroken Miller said.

The empty collar image also appeared on an Indianapolis news story in 2006 during Boden’s tenure here. It recounts how Kim Gastineau’s beloved dog Spencer, who managed to slip out of his yard, was taken to HSI by a neighbor and was killed there while Gastineau repeatedly called HSI, only to be told his dog wasn’t there. No effort was made to contact Gastineau, although two contact numbers were on Spencer’s collar. He was told the dog had no identification, and was treated with utter contempt.

A funeral director, Miller has a keen awareness of the grief process and the importance of respect. He also may have some community visibility. Boden attempted to placate the family with a refund and offers of alternative memorials. But all they wanted was assurance that this would not happen to another family.

Boden says procedures have been implemented to prevent future mixups.

SPCA Tampa Bay – Some things just don’t add up

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

As anger boils worldwide over the senseless slaughter of Cecil, the beloved, collared Zimbabwe lion lured to his death by a trophy hunter, some overdue attention is being focused on this brutal “sport”. Surely it goes without saying that no one involved with animal welfare could possibly take part in such cruelty, right?

Think again.

Jim Helinger serves as pro bono attorney for SPCA Tampa Bay. Helinger proudly displays trophies from his own hunting ventures, which he describes as “incredibly fun”.

Trophy Hunter

In 2006, Helinger helped organize the World Coyote Shootout in Medicine Hat, Alberta. As described in The Hunting Report newsletter, the event featured two-man teams with local guides competing to shoot the most coyotes in two days. “It’s going to be incredibly fun,” said Helinger.

Let that sink in. A man who may be tasked with defending animals in cruelty and neglect cases believes killing as many of them as possible is fun.

According to NBC Nightly News, Zimbabwe is considering pursuing extradition for Cecil’s American killer. The SPCA/TB Board knows Helinger is a trophy hunter. CEO Martha Boden knows it. It doesn’t seem to bother them at all.

It certainly bothers anyone who truly cares about the welfare of defenseless animals. A lot.