The animal welfare profession is a very volatile profession. So many things can and will go wrong. For this reason, many communities will attempt to provide guidance through citizen committees. These committees are given birth to help the animal shelter avoid mistakes by assisting the shelter in making policy decisions that reflect the morays of the community.
The hope is that the community members will reflect the values of the community. Like most communities, people are appointed to these communities after volunteering to be placed on the committee. Many communities have not figured out that the desire to serve on a committee is evidence that a person has a special agenda that may not represent the will of the community as a whole.
In one organization, it was so rare to have someone volunteer to sit on a committee, that County Commission members selected the first person to come along who wanted to serve. The Advisory Committee became a group of special interest people wanting to steer the animal shelter in a direction that may not have been in the best interest of the community.
It is no wonder that in recent years that organizations became a place in which unreasonable chances were taken in trying to adopt aggressive dogs. Staff were placed at risk trying to care for these animals.
For the most part, advisory committees are a feel good thing; allowing community elected leaders to feel that they are practicing good community engagement. In order to keep the committee effective and providing a service to your community, it is important to know the motivation of the people wanting to serve on your committee. The best advisory committees are ones that provide a balanced opinion.