What it takes for evil to triumph

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?

Pork, the “other” white meat?

November 15th, 2015

When we think of our role in the animal welfare industry, let us not limit our compassion to the lives of dogs and cats, rabbits and gerbils.

Did you really enjoy that last pork chop?

Money trail demonstrates how donors are exploited by SPCA Tampa Bay

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

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

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.

More bad news for Pinellas County animals

July 29th, 2015

A recent article in the Tampa Bay Times revealed serious issues with Pinellas County Animal Services, including kennels where the temperature regularly soars to unhealthy levels, understaffing, and lack of written policies for after-hours and emergency care. A required audit of the county facility also cited inadequate accounting procedures and lack of financial transparency.

Dusty and nonfunctioning ceiling fans and torn window screens were also noted as potential contributors to disease and declining health in the shelter.

Citizens and previous volunteers have complained about incidents of cruelty at PCAS, distorted death records, an increase in killing and a decrease in adoptions, as well as low morale and fewer volunteers. These complaints were also examined.

Since 2011, PCAS has lost three directors and the staff veterinarian. A search is currently underway to fill the director’s position.

County figures show that in 2014, PCAS took in 4,801 dogs and 8,107 cats. Of those, 1,132 dogs and 3,529 cats were adopted. 1,586 dogs and 4,105 cats were killed.

Put another way, many more dogs and cats were killed at PCAS than found new homes. Sound familiar? Many former SPCA Tampa Bay volunteers say it sounds just like what’s been going on there over the past couple of years:

“This could easily be the audit report for SPCA, verbatim. All the allegations are the same. The one problem, we can’t get SPCA audited because they are not a county facility. If they were subject to an audit, they would find these exact same transgressions and reported by former volunteers and staff”.

Mismanagement and abdication of responsibility seem to be rampant in Pinellas County. mtA stands with our Florida friends who truly care about animal welfare as they continue to fight for the animals who have no voice.

Read more at SPCA Tampa Bay Behind the Kennel Doors

Clever branding belies the reality of SPCA Tampa Bay

July 16th, 2015

SPCA Tampa Bay is getting plenty of publicity for its new logo and revamped brand identity. Sadly, the stark contrast between the slick image and the sad reality is being mentioned only by animal advocates, who continually try to make SPCA/TB live up to its promises.

Under the direction of Martha Boden, who nearly destroyed any credibility for the Humane Society of Indianapolis during her tenure as its CEO, one can’t help but wonder what undisclosed sum of donor dollars were paid to a high-profile Tampa advertising agency, ChappellRoberts, to create new branding, a revised website, and a new logo.
The logo, claims Boden, “was the crowning moment of all the brand work”.

No doubt, since it bears a strong resemblance to that of Best Friends Animal Society, an organization that actively supports No Kill and has a sterling reputation. The philosophy of Best Friends is about as different from SPCA/TB’s as the Mars rover is from a grocery cart.

According to an article on TBN Weekly.com, the new brand identity “was developed through a strategic and collaborative process that included research and input sessions with community partners, board members, staff and other stakeholder groups.”

Missing from those stakeholders were the many dedicated volunteers who’ve been let go because their concern for the animals’ welfare didn’t match management’s mission to make money. Also not consulted were citizens such as the woman whose lost cat wound up at SPCA/TB and was there for 10 days before she was notified. Then she was charged $200 to reclaim her pet. If she didn’t pay, she was told, the cat would be killed.

“While we may have a refreshed look, our commitment to providing quality care to all animals remains the same,” says Boden.

If that’s an example of their commitment, it’s a sad day in Tampa Bay.

More on SPCA Tampa Bay can be read here.

Addendum 07/16/15 3:40pm

The lady whose cat found its way to SPCA/TB reminds us of Kim Gastineau’s experience in Indianapolis whose dog was killed at HSI under Ms Boden’s watch, who reportedly told Mr. Gastineau

“We do not want the public to know that we euthanize animals and will not keep documentation or pictures available to the public of the ones we do. We depend on the fees we charge for animals dropped off here and if they knew they were being euthanized people simply would not bring them here.”

Dog Wash to benefit homeless animals

July 7th, 2015

Calling all dirty dogs —
Charity dog wash is Saturday July 11!

Got a pup who could use a bath? Let our volunteers do it for just $10! While your dog enjoys (?) a gentle scrub, add a pedicure — nail trims are just $5.

And all proceeds benefit move to ACT! You’ll stay dry and protect your towels while you help improve the lives of homeless animals, support small all-volunteer rescues, promote adoption, and expose misconduct that compromises the outcome for homeless animals.

Bring your dirty dog to

For the Dogs!
10617 Zionsville Road (next to Pizza King)

Saturday, July 11
11:00 a.m. — 2:00 p.m.

Baths $10 Nail trims $5

…and take home a clean canine! Spread the word!

New paint, same old rotten wood underneath

June 22nd, 2015

SPCA Tampa Bay launched its redesigned website this week, complete with a new logo that bears a deceptive resemblance to Best Friends Animal Society’s logo.

No two organizations could differ more radically. Best Friends actively supports No Kill through initiatives to fight puppy mills and breed discrimination, support TNR, engage volunteers, and connect with rescues to vigorously promote adoption nationwide. No healthy adoptable animal is EVER killed at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

We would like to believe the similarity in logos is accidental, but……

Loaded with emotionally charged copy that is flatly contradicted by the experience of numerous former SPCA/TB volunteers and employees, the new website achieves the goal of “rebranding” but changes nothing in day-to-day operations. Even the Board president’s 2014 letter dismissing every charge brought against the Boden administration remains on the site, a clear message that the rebranding involves no policy changes.

The animals, of course, didn’t have a vote.

It’s a sad fact of today’s world that we can no longer rely on businesses or organizations to keep the promises they make when promoting themselves. Even more sad is the fact that well-meaning and sincere people will be duped by the lies into donating money that will go primarily for inflated salaries instead of helping the animals. Website redesign isn’t cheap. The money spent on this site, which according to one professional web designer is far below par, could have helped several more dogs and cats get adopted.

The Indianapolis animal welfare community is familiar with the rebranding smoke and mirrors. It happened here too, under Martha Boden’s tenure at the Humane Society of Indianapolis. But finally, HSI’s Board woke up.

Can no one on the SPCA/TB Board of Directors hear the alarm?

Last “Tails & Ales” until September – see you Thursday at the Brewpub!

June 16th, 2015

The last spring session of Tails & Ales at the Broad Ripple Brewpub is Thursday, June 18. Don’t miss a chance to enjoy some great food, craft beer, and the opportunity to save a life and find your new best friend!

Five all-volunteer rescue groups will be bringing adoptable pets to visit with Brewpub customers on Thursday. The roster includes:

Lucky Dog Retreat
Tribe Bully
A Critter’s Chance
Every Dog Counts

The fun starts at 6:00. Bring a two-legged friend and learn more about the rescues, get acquainted with the adoptable animals, skip cooking for the evening, and expect a surprise or two!

Tails & Ales will be back in September, but why wait that long?