It was obvious by his reaction that Corinne T. Smith Animal Center board member Stephen Finch was getting good news from a phone call Finch received Friday afternoon at the shelter.
After the call was over, Finch told fellow board members Anna Day, Veronica Finch — Stephen’s wife — and Bill and Sherry Howry that two representatives from the Austin-based American Pets Alive are coming back to the shelter next week.
One of those individuals is looking for a job as shelter director, Finch said.
With Butch Lawson apparently out as the shelter’s director, naming an interim director and then a permanent director are among the board’s top priorities. The board members have been told that Lawson has either resigned or been given a letter of termination signed by board president Debra Dixon and another group of board members.
Neither Lawson nor Dixon have communicated with the board members who were at the animal shelter Friday working as volunteers to help the staff man the facility.
“I want to hear his side of it,” Sherry Howry, the board’s vice president, said of Lawson. She hadn’t been able to as of Friday afternoon.
Representatives of American Pets Alive visited the animal shelter in December and wrote a seven-page report that contained observations — some favorable, some unfavorable — and contained recommendations for improvements.
Dixon has done nothing to act on the recommendations, Stephen Finch said.
The Amercican Pets Alive representatives who are visiting the shelter next week will arrive Tuesday morning and stay until Thursday, Finch said. “They are coming down to work and to help us,” Finch said. “They are coming down as advocates and not adversaries. They are doing whatever they can do to help us succeed.
“That was a really good phone call.”
Sherry Howry said the board will meet Tuesday at the animal shelter and again Wednesday, this time at the Adams Street Community Center. Part of the board met this past Wednesday at the Depot Civic and Convention Center to accommodate the large crowd that had been anticipated.
Board members who attended the Wednesday night meeting were Sherry Howry, Stephen and Veronica Finch, Day, Dr. Allan Cass and Betty Cass. Bill Howry attended by Skype.
Board members Dixon and her husband, Bob, Larry and Peggy Eason, Patricia Caudill and Kevin Kitchens did not attend.
The board members who attended voted on two new board members —Leona Cleveland and John Morris — and a third new member is expected to be voted onto the board next week, Sherry Howry said.
Finch repeated his earlier statements that he hopes Dixon and the board members who were not present Wednesday night will resign.
“I have nothing personal against Debra,” Finch said. “If Debra could come in and support the mission statement of Corinne T. Smith, she’s an advocate for the animals. Going against the mission statement and running this as her organization puts everything that has been here for 30 years in jeopardy.”
Dixon has not responded to requests from the Bulletin for comment.
Animal intake has opened back up, and the shelter had 116 dogs and 36 cats as of Friday afternoon. The number of dogs remains over the shelter’s capacity, but rescue shelters are beginning to work with the Brownwood shelter again and take dogs, Finch said.
A German shepherd-Great Dane mix name Sista, which is the shelter’s longest tenured dog at 15 months, has been claimed by a rescue and will be leaving as soon, Sherry Howry said.