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

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

TO:
CHRIS STEINOCHER, President & CEO
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,
http://www.movetoact.com/?cat=23

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

One Response to “Martha Boden, SPCA/TB CEO, appointed to Board of Governors”

  1. Nancy Wudtke says:

    Thank you Move to Act for clearly stating what has and what is continuing to our community’s loved sheltered animals at the SPCA Tampa Bay. Nancy, a “fired” volunteer after quality service of ten year at this facility of cruelty.

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