trouble brewing in borough of west chester

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Sometimes the doings of municipalities when trying to find a solution are slightly comical. It started with this which is floating across social media:

footloose

Could this ACTUALLY have some basis in truth? Well the short answer is unfortunately it does:

 

And apparently there is a power struggle going on in West Chester and there is the guy who runs that BID (Business Improvement District) who is most unfortunately playing law enforcement in this video:

So yikes it seems not just the temperatures as in the weather that are heating up in the scenic Borough of West Chester!

Apparently there is a public hearing on this and other things (including BYOB restaurants) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 from 6 pm to 9 pm at West Chester Borough Hall.

I am not familiar with this website PhilaNet.com and I found the above video in this post:

West Chester Business Improvement District Goes Neo-Nazi

WEST CHESTER, PA — The West Chester Business Improvement District (BID) executive director, Malcolm Johnstone, was observed in illegal activities at the corners of Gay and Church Streets in West Chester.

Malcolm was filmed approaching a street artist and forcing him to stop painting. He also implied he had the authority to stop a street musician from playing the guitar. All in all, it appeared Malcolm was committing hate crimes and civil rights violations.

 

Ok I am not an authority on civil rights violations, but I do question the authority of a civilian being able to just walk up and down the streets of West Chester and say to people what they can and can’t do. That is what borough personnel like police officers are for.

There is also this website http://kingarthur.com/ and another one http://justicedept.com/West-Chester-Crimes/

And on YouTube a bunch of videos:

 

So I don’t know what is going on, but maybe it’s time West Chester Borough talks about this? Or they won’t if it is pending litigation?  Is it because of this situation that there is now this proposed busking ordinance? Does that mean for street festivals in the borough where there is music or even just regular First Friday celebrations there will be extra permits and such that will have to be purchased even if performers were invited to come to the borough if this is passed?

I am not taking sides. But I can tell you as someone who worked to bring music to the streets of a community for many years by working on First Friday Main Line celebrations, it makes me sad if people are fighting over what should be a nice thing.

I have to be honest I was a little surprised by the West Chester BID guy Malcom Johnstone on the video. I say that as someone who is a fan generally speaking of all this BID (Business Improvement District) has accomplished over the years.  But I think he made a misstep by whatever he was trying to do that ended up on video. I am sure he was just trying to mediate a tough situation.

I will also say that music is expression, but West Chester is essentially a big small town. It is not Nashville or New Orleans or New York…and I do think that street performers in those locations need to have a permit.  Which leads me to my looming question: if West Chester passes this ordinance will that stop whatever this musicians versus whomever pissing match is all about?

NOTE TO BOTH SIDES: I am trying to be fair here, but I am struggling. I am struggling because to me music should not represent ugliness and fighting.

Maybe the Daily Local will take this on and hash out the issue.

all aboard the crazy train at the chester county SPCA?

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Ok look I won’t even pretend I know what is going on, but when sources send me this photo what am I to think? When I hear of volunteers being “fired”, and police coming to the shelter when board members are there, what am I to think? Is this how the new Executive Director comports herself? Is this how they run animal shelters Philly-style? Wasn’t she at PASPCA too?

I am NOT a volunteer of the Chester County SPCA or affiliated with them. I hate to have to mention this once wonderful organization in a negative light again. But as someone who watched the last drama over the land deal unfold, and then was so excited when State Senator Andy Dinniman came in with folks to get the shelter back in shape, I have grave concerns for the future, don’t you ?

Answer me this: when did it all become power and politics and no longer about the animals?

Oh also check out the article in The Daily Local.

I am very sad about this. Drama and nonsense could kill this shelter and I have to wonder if letting people in who some considered problematic at the PASPCA was a huge mistake?

Here is hoping someone can unravel this hot mess, right?

barking out loud

swimming dog, East Hampton, NY

swimming dog, East Hampton, NY

Dog rescue is an emotional business.  Want to see people get up in arms quickly? Talk about animal rescue and shelters.  So that being said, some are not going to like that I am posting about the Chester County SPCA.

The Chester County SPCA has a fabulous history.  One of my most favorite rescue dogs ever, an English Springer Spaniel named Winston came home from there.  But like every other animal rescue place time in memoriam, apparently the Chester County SPCA is having some fairly serious issues.

The Chester County SPCA has exploded all over the news in the past few days or so much like the Delaware County SPCA did a few years ago. I am not surprised because very early on in the summer I heard some really upsetting things about the Chester County SPCA.  Is it true they are NOT scanning animals for micro chipping and are in a lot of cases just shipping animals down to Philadelphia?  I find that personally distressing because why are we micro chipping and licensing pets if no one is really going to try to use these things to identify our animals if god forbid they get lost?

The Inquirer broke news that Chester County SPCA volunteers said the shelter had turned into a “kill factory”. If it had been anyone other than Amy Worden and Mari Schaeffer (whose article first appeared) breaking this news I might be very skeptical.  But these women know their stuff. So is it true?

And the stories leaking out are of volunteers and shelter employees being punished and/or shown the door for questioning things? And even board members are talking?

I personally am very concerned because if the Chester County SPCA doesn’t quit trying to muzzle people and deal with its issues they will have real problems which may cause them to have serious, serious issues in the long run. I will say I realize and accept that not every dog and cat can be saved. However, that being said, if they are taking the money to pay for the saving, then the Chester County SPCA needs to open up and be honest.  I figure because they take public money they might be subject to right to know requests?

Sign me worried and disappointed and see below for what is in the media and so on.

Like it or not, something is going on because TOO many media sources are writing. And a blog I never saw before has cropped up – Justice For Chester County Animals:

We tried to tell them -parts 2, 3, & 4

Theresa Duffy, former volunteer, wrote this on July 28, when she was still a core dog walking volunteer and a member of the Dogs on Tour team.

Board of Directors

The Chester County SPCA 1212 Phoenixville Pike West Chester, PA 19380

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am currently a volunteer at CCSPCA. Until recently, I was a regular face at the shelter, spending as much time as possible there walking dogs and having the pleasure of getting to know their individual personalities.

I am writing to you to express my concern for the well being of the animals that reside in this shelter. I feel this is a matter of urgency and requires your attention. My observations are detailed as follows:

The absence of an operations manager is apparent. I hope you are actively and aggressively seeking to fill this position with a qualified individual. There is no evidence of that in the job openings section of the CCSPCA website or a search conducted on the internet.

It is clear the shelter is under-staffed in the kennel specifically. On several occasions, fellow volunteers and I have cleaned up the dog pens and ensured water was replenished. I never minded doing it, but it speaks to the need for more attention to detail. Potential adopters may turn away due to offensive odor. Also, I’m sure you wouldn’t want someone conclude that the animals were not given fresh water at all times.

Regarding the health of certain animals, I have observed that some animals’ conditions do not appear to improve over time and then they are suddenly missing. Veterinary attention is a basic need for the health of these animals. I have heard rumblings that veterinary care was being reduced as a cost cutting measure for shelter. I understand the shelter is not a sanctuary, but euthanizing a dog when an antibiotic could have spared its life, is reprehensible.

The shelter is losing long standing solid contributing volunteers for 2 reasons. First, they are being fired because they care too much. The policy states that a volunteer cannot question euthanasia decisions. Volunteers give of our time because we care, asking us to ignore that is impossible. Enforcing shelter policy related to volunteers specifically should require the use of some compassion. The situation with Leslie Celia could have been handled with much more respect and understanding rather than inflaming an already emotionally charged situation. Second, they are leaving out of disgust specifically due to Deb Murray. As volunteer coordinator I believe she’s actually going out of her way to deter volunteers from participating. She removes Facebook posts that she deems inappropriate when in actuality, that’s the only place we can share information and learn from each other. She is rarely present at the shelter and when she is, doesn’t participate in walking dogs. Therefore, she doesn’t know their personalities, or needs. How can this individual be in charge of volunteers?

I am also wondering why the dogs park days have been eliminated. The importance of these informal outings shouldn’t be diminished. These animals are given so little time in the fresh air, that a good long walk, in normal surroundings benefits their mental well being. Additionally, some critical learning’s about the dogs behaviors help to inform potential adopters of any special needs. Please consider reinstating this as soon as possible.

Michele Amendola’s absence is noticeable. Not one dog, that I am aware of, has gone to rescue since she began medical leave. Have you discontinued trying to move these animals and spare their lives? Also, what happened to the satellite adoption centers for the cats? Didn’t that program move over 40 animals to families?

I am a volunteer specifically for the CCSPCA for a variety of reasons. The Mission and Vision contribute to it. If these values have changed, please let me know.

 

Also look at these media reports:

Philly Dawg: Volunteers: Chester County SPCA Has Become a “Kill Factory”

By Amy Woden Philly.com

Animal lovers are speaking out about treatment of pets at the Chester County SPCA, including dogs put down for minor health problems and a majority of cats getting a one-way ticket to the euthanasia room.

Volunteers say the shelter in the state’s richest county has become a “kill factory.”

The shelter is taking in hundreds if not thousands of more animals now than it did two years ago before taking the contract to handle animal control for Delaware County when the Delaware County SPCA became a “no kill” shelter and no longer accepted strays.

Exactly how many additional animals are being admitted we don’t know because the SPCA will not release its intake or “outcome” statistics, despite requests from reporters and the fact it is performing a tax-payer funded service for a neighboring county.

The new influx of animals has come as the shelter is plagued by management troubles, ineffective board leadership and conflicting philosophies about euthanasia, according an article by my colleague Mari Schaefer in Monday’s Inquirer.

Euthanasia numbers on rise at Chesco animal shelter

Mari A. Schaefer, Inquirer Staff Writer

Last updated: Monday, August 12, 2013, 1:08 AM

It is a regional hub for taking in stray dogs and cats, but the Chester County SPCA shelter has become a “kill factory,” say SPCA volunteers, a former board member, and ex-staff members.

They blame ineffective board leadership, unfilled senior management positions, and a clash of ideologies for a significant rise in euthanasia numbers.

Though shelter management does not dispute that euthanasia numbers are rising, it says it is battling the realities of dealing with a tremendous volume of unwanted dogs and cats, many of whom are not adoptable.

The shelter takes in about 5,000 animals a year, according to board president Conrad Muhly, who said the critics are not representative of those who have worked and volunteered at the shelter

 

Pottstown Mercury: Animal advocates concerned about Chesco SPCA euthanasia rate

 By Vince Sullivan vsullivan@21st-centurymedia.com

Posted: Monday, 08/19/13 01:11 pm

When Dave Schlott picked up a stray dog in Chester, Delaware County, last Monday, he was enamored of its personality.

Found on a porch, the dog was frail, but not starved. A homeowner had been feeding it, and it seemed friendly. It also showed signs of physical abuse.

Schlott is filling in as the city’s animal control officer for a few weeks after having retired from that position last year. The reason he gave for retiring was the county’s then-new contract with the Chester County SPCA to take in all of Delaware County’s stray animals.

 Schlott had been in the business for many years with contracts for 15 Delaware County towns and he didn’t want to have to make multiple trips a day to the West Chester area facility.
The reason he gave for not taking this particular dog, which has been named Gretchen, is that he is concerned with reports from former volunteers and employees in Chester County that the SPCA’s euthanasia rates have skyrocketed since it started taking in Delaware County’s strays.

“They seem to be overwhelmed by the number of animals they’re getting in,” Schlott said. “I was determined to save at least this dog.”….A group of current and former workers at the Chester County SPCA have banded together to try and change what they deem as unsatisfactory policies and practices regarding the euthanization of animals….The volunteers and staff members say that the influx of animals from Delco has overwhelmed the Chester County SPCA.

“Every staff member said we can’t handle this,” said Kaity Dempsey, who worked at the shelter for seven years. She was fired from her position as rescue coordinator nine months ago.

“They just said we’ll take your money,” said Jen McCreary, a former volunteer who fosters animals. She stopped volunteering in May because of her issues with the organization’s leadership.

Rich Britton, spokesperson for the Chester County SPCA, declined to talk about euthanasia numbers Friday. He instead highlighted the issue of animal overpopulation…One of the chief complaints from the former workers is the lack of qualified people in leadership positions. The shelter is currently searching for an executive director, which is traditionally a person who oversees the day-to-day operations of a facility. That search has been ongoing for several months after a handful of short-lived interim managers.

“They’ve never had any leadership,” said a former employee who asked not to be named because they aren’t permitted to speak about the shelter’s operations. “It’s been nine months since the last operations manager. But the executive director is the big piece that’s missing. That’s your fundraising.”

“They need to hire day-to-day management,” said a current volunteer who asked not to be named because they didn’t want to be barred from the shelter

Patch: Chester County SPCA’s Message About Pets Surprises Some

The SPCA has an urgent plea for pet owners who can no longer afford to care for pets.

Posted by  Bob Byrne   (Editor) , August 11, 2013 at 11:41 AM
The Chester County SPCA has a message for pet owners who may no longer be able to care for their pets: Please try to find a new home for your pet before bringing it to the SPCA.