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Former Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area volunteers, staff call for change

A group of former Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area volunteers and staff are demanding changes to the shelter's leadership.

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — Eight former volunteers and three former staff members from the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area called for change on Sunday.

The group cited missteps and mistreatment by management, including Executive Director Amy Kaunas.

The meeting follows the Humane Society’s decision to put down a dog for behavioral issues, though the group says the issues go far one particular dog.

"Now that I have heard and read all the stories of all the other staff and volunteers, I now realize how awful it really was there," former medical staff member Michelle Hall said. "I'm glad that people are coming forward."

The group shared stories and concerns that animals were not and are not properly cared for.

"The physical and mental wellbeing of the dogs has not been a priority for years," former volunteer Lisa Willing said.

Complaints ranged from dogs not being let out for days on end during the COVID-19 pandemic to a group of cats being deemed “no longer worth the effort.”

One former staff member read from her 2015 resignation letter:

"I cannot in good conscious work in an environment with an animal abuser," former kennel staff member Morgan Hooks said.

Many also described poor conditions for volunteers.

"Looking down the ranks, they treated us like dirt," former volunteer Mike Carroll revealed.

"Staff are so overworked and they're just not getting any help and they’re treated like crap," Willing said.

The former marketing director brought up concerns over a lack of transparency about funds.

"I saw a lot of questionable expenses," former director of marketing Lori Zink said. "And when I did go to a board member that I was semi-friendly with and told him about it, he didn’t seem concerned."

In a statement to FOX43 during the news conference, the Harrisburg Humane Society, through its public relations firm, wrote in part: 

"Finding loving homes for all animals placed into our care is our mission at The Humane Society of Harrisburg Area…. We're scheduling more one-on-one and small-group volunteer meetings and established a Volunteer Advisory Committee."

We followed up with a list of questions to the executive director after hearing the complaints and criticism from the former volunteers and former paid staff.

The PR firm provided only one answer about air conditioning in the shelter. The question about if Kaunas would step down was not answered.

The group of former volunteers is not only requesting Kaunas to step down, but the board as well.

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