I grew up in a profession that believed that our volunteers were the life blood of our organization. Our volunteers could give our animals the special attention that we didn’t have time to provide.
I continued to believe that throughout my career until I ran into a group of volunteers who believed that their service to the organization gave them justification to have the right to direct the operation of the animal shelter.
It was the first time in my life that I believed that our volunteers were a detriment to the organization. Sure, they were providing valuable care to the animals, but they became a force of demanding staff to overlook the behavioral problems associated with dogs, so as to push the aggressive animals into adoptive homes.
The volunteers were quite effective. They complained to the right people, made their plea to the media. There purpose was to undermine the mission of the animal shelter staff to protect the public.
To some degree the volunteers were success in getting the power players to question the decision of staff. But, mostly these players didn’t like to be embroiled in conflict. They saw the volunteers as representing a caring community, instead of their role as inflicting their special interest.
This was a problem that was being experience State wide to such a degree due to the high frequency of aggressive animals being released from animal shelters back into the community, the State had to step in and enact laws to force shelters to tell the truth about the behavior of the animals in their care.
Volunteers have special interest, the care that they provide the animals makes them biased towards those animals. Many volunteers will try to force a shelter to ignore the shelter’s mission to protect the community. Our elected overseers should have the foresight to recognize this dynamic.