Controversy was unleashed after an online petition in Change.org appeared last week, demanding the resignation of the executive director of the Western PA Humane Society, Joy Braunstein. The petition (that so far has reached almost 1,600 signatures) stated:
“Among other controversial decisions, Ms. Joy Braunstein elected to purchase a collie puppy from a breeder who charges $1000 per pup as opposed to adopting one of the dogs at her own shelter or another dog in need of rescue. It is the height of hypocrisy to be the face of an organization that promotes adoption and combats overpopulation while purchasing a dog from a breeder”.
This created a controversy with all sorts of opinions and another online petition appeared; but this one was in favor of Braunstein and her achievements as a director. So far it has gathered almost 2,000 signatures.
People who signed the petition on her favor are either defending her freedom of choice of get any puppy she wants, or her right to keep her personal and professional life separately. They claim she is free to get a puppy from a breeder if that’s her wish, and that it shouldn’t be ground for forced resignation.
On the other hand, some think it’s hypocrite of her to be representing an organization that promotes adoption and tries to help with overpopulation while at the same time, buys a dog from a breeder. It may seem like a conflict of interests when shelters advocate “adopt, don’t shop”.
However, this goes beyond the purebred Collie. That seemed to be like a spark that got a lot of people talking about Joy Braunstein’s management. During the 13 months she was the executive director of WPHS, a lot of people were fired or quit – some were staff and some volunteers. Many of them signed the petition for her resignation and they describe how they left the shelter because of the way she was running it.
They claim she replaced staff members with friends and that she reserved the more desirable breeds for high profile and wealthy adopters. Apparently she also changed the behavioral evaluations of the dogs; which made fewer dogs suitable for adoption and this increased the euthanasia rates. A lot of adoptable dogs were euthanized.
Even some high members of the staff left during her administration; like the former director of marketing and public relations, the chief operating officer, the director of volunteer and foster programs, the director of human resources and the director of adoption, admissions and animal care. When the first petition appeared, Braunstein was placed on administrative leave. On Friday, she resigned from her position. She said she was shocked by the response all of this got. Even though many of the discussions have focused on her right –or lack of it– to buy a puppy from a breeder, this opened a bigger subject regarding her role as an executive director of a Humane Society. And if what is said of her is true, do you think she should be forced to resign? Do you think it contradicts her role in the shelter if she buys or if she adopts? Do you think we should care about that? And what about the things the former staff and volunteers describe about her management? Tell us what you think!