With a large turnout expected, the meeting of the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center board Wednesday night has been moved to the Depot Civic and Convention Center.
A public question-and-answer session will be held from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the board meeting will be called to order at 6 p.m., board vice president Sherry Howry said via text message.
The agenda, which was prepared by board president Debra Dixon, contains items including voting on new members and discussing fundraising events.
Howry and Finch both said Tuesday by phone it’s their understanding Dixon will not attend.
Finch said the board will discuss infractions of bylaws and the mission statement under the “unfinished business” item on the agenda, noting that Dixon had tried to discipline three board members — Finch, Howry and Dr. Allan Cass — at a board meeting last month.
In an interview Friday, Finch said he’d had a productive conversation with Dixon and her husband, Bob, also a board member. That conversation indicated a resolution to the controversy that has embroiled a divided shelter board might be seeing a resolution, Finch said then.
On Tuesday, Finch said Tuesday he hadn’t been able to communicate this week with Dixon or the board members who support her.
When asked if he stands by his Friday comments, Finch said, “do I still think it’s progressing to a resolution? Yes I do.”
Finch also said the shelter was able to send a large number of dogs with rescue shelters Tuesday, reducing the population of dogs at the Brownwood shelter from 140 to less than 100.
Finch attributed the reduction in dogs to a couple of factors — the release of Brownwood City Attorney Pat Chesser’s letter to Dixon and the shelter’s board, and the correcting of incorrect information that had circulated on social media.
Pat Chesser’s letter
Board of Directors Brown County Humane Society d/b/a Corinne T. Smith Animal Center Attn: Debra Dixon, President 3106 Milam Drive Brownwood, TX 76801
Re: Notice of Breach of the Agreement for the Construction, Ownership and Operation of an Animal Shelter by and between the City of Brownwood and the Brown County Humane Society (the "Agreement”)
Dear Mrs. Dixon:
As you are aware, I represent the City of Brownwood (the "City"). On February 25, 2020, the City Council received public input on the operation ofvthe Brownwood Animal Shelter (the "Shelter"). After hearing from concerned members of the public, including board members and employees of the Shelter, it has come to the attention of the City that the Brown County Humane Society (the "Humane Society") may be in breach of the Agreement.
The Agreement requires that the Shelter be operated “in accordance with industry standards and all applicable laws, rules and regulations.” It is reported to the City, that the Shelter has been operated as a "No-Kill" shelter for the past few years, has become severely overcrowded with animals which is negatively impacting the health and wellness of the animals housed at the Shelter.
On January 2, 2019, the City's Chief of Police, Terry Nichols wrote a letter to the Humane Society warning the Board of the “chronic conditions and concerns” that the Brownwood Police Department has witnessed because of the overcrowding and lack of population management at the Shelter. It has been reported to Council that at least one dog has been kept in a small enclosure at the Shelter for over a year and a half, without any hope of adoption.
We have been told that the Shelter also does not have any staff members currently certified and/or licensed to perform euthanasia. Despite some efforts to reduce the population of animals at the Shelter, the population of animals currently at the Shelter is still beyond the capabilities of the Shelter and the Shelter staff to house and care for properly and in a humane manner.
At the most recent city council meeting, a report prepared by American Pets Alive was presented to the Council. It was represented to the City Council that the report was prepared by an independent agency who outlined many deficiencies in standard operating procedure. If these deficiencies still exist, at a minimum, the City Council expects to receive a plan or report on how these deficiencies are being addressed and the anticipated timeline to address them.
It has further been alleged that the Board of the Humane Society is not running the Humane Society, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in accordance with its by-laws, State law and/or in a manner that reflects the organizational integrity and transparency expected of an entity supported by public tax dollars.
The City Council has heard reports of the Board's failure to follow due process in the termination of Shelter employees, failure to follow the Texas Open Meetings Act and/or its bylaws when conducting its Board meetings, the Board's removal or attempted removal of Board members who oppose, or who have differing opinions than, the majority of the Board, the Board's failure to open the Shelter to animals brought in by the public and the use of Humane Society funds to reimburse Board members for expenses incurred traveling to the Shelter. Because of these controversial actions by the Board, the financial supporters of the Shelter and the volunteers necessary to operate the Shelter have indicated that they will no longer support the Shelter.
Of course, we invite you to respond to the allegations that have been brought to our attention. There may already be a plan in place to address these issues or you may have evidence to rebut them. However, it is imperative that we hear from you about these serious issues that have generated a substantial outcry from our community.
If the Humane Society does not adequately address these issues or otherwise bring the Shelter into compliance with industry standards and/or State law within 60 days after the Humane Society's receipt of this letter, including showing policies and personnel in place to perform euthanasia for unadaptable or sick animals, and immediately begin operating the Shelter in a lawful manner, with integrity and transparency, including opening the Shelter to animals brought in by the public, the City Council may, following the 60-day notice period, terminate the agreement and/or terminate the City's subsidy to the Humane Society.
Your cooperation will save time and expense for all involved.