The following was posted by BFAS as a comment on Sad News from Dogtown.
Thank you for voicing your concern so that I can address it. Please know
that we have a comprehensive fencing protocol. Our caregivers meet
regularly with Dogtown management to point out any maintenance needs and to
draw attention to any concerns about a given dog’s fencing requirements. Our
Team Leaders in Dogtown check all maintenance requests that are turned in
and insure their proper completion.
Many of the dogs that we manage require special considerations. Our primary
concern is the animal’s safety and welfare as well as their emotional
health. In conjunction with the physical requirements like fencing, our
caregivers work diligently to meet the emotional needs of each individual
Caregivers do express concerns as the needs change for different dogs. If a
dog needs a different type of fencing than it currently has, the decision is
made to either move the dog to a run that already has the appropriate
fencing or to add the appropriate fencing to the dog’s current run. We have
runs that have normal fencing between runs, we have runs that have double
fencing between runs and we have runs that have cement board visual barriers
between runs. All of these types of fence lines meet specific needs for the
In most circumstances it has not been necessary to have double fencing on
fence lines that are not shared with other dogs. Obviously in this case we
were tragically mistaken and work has already begun to prevent this from
happening in the future.
Director Animal Care
The exact same text appeared on a mailing list with the author given as:
Aileen L. Walden
Sr. Manager Member Experience
Best Friends Animal Society
(435)644-2001 ext 4817
While this was obviously a staff prepared reply, the difficulty here is in both finding and revealing the truth. Reading through this text carefully, it is not at all consistent with my experiences at BFAS. Nor have I ever heard, ether then or now, any caregiver freely and directly express what BFAS has stated above. Instead, I’ve heard a rather different story from Michelle Besmehn and Ed Fritz of BFAS when requests were made. And more recently, rather upset comments coming from others at BFAS after this all happened.
In addition, among the comments on that BFAS blog is one that strikes a memory from years ago. From both the name and wording I’m pretty sure who she is.
I worked at BFAS and I know how hard it is to get a request for fencing or whatever for the dog’s completed. We worked soooooooooooooo hard to get barrier fencing in dog run’s where dogs were redirecting on each other out of barrier frustration. So, I for one beleive Holly Smith’s blog reply.
Note that in some cases like Vicki notes, we’re not speaking of a large expense. Sometimes a Plexiglas or board strip is enough to prevent an incident. And then another familiar name appeared in a comment.
Like Vicki, I used to work as a caregiver at Best Friends. (Hi, Vic!) Many of us tried so hard to get double fencing put on all the lodges. But management said that there was no money to do so. Again and again, we saw dogs with chewed off ears, tails, legs–all wounds done thru fences. (Example: Nicole got her lip totally damaged because a dog in the next run pulled on Nicole’s lip and tore it to pieces.) We begged, we cried for double fencing, but the answer was always the same, “No money.” If Beans and Tug and Denzel HAD been in double-fenced runs, none of this would have happened. None of it.
So, where are we? It is reasonable to assume that no current employee of BFAS who wishes to keep their job would publicly contradict them. While there are many others who have direct knowledge of the truth here, no amount of any such statements would be real proof, and this remains a he-said/she-said argument.
Enough that, in the past, it has been very difficult to convince people. Looking back at emails with even a single former BFAS supporter, I must have sent over a dozen page-long emails. What finally happened is that my comments sensitized her to more carefully read postings and news from BFAS over several weeks. She caught and challenged them on major items that either conflicted or just didn’t make sense. So after hours of effort, one single person turned around.
Lacking $43 million dollars in donations and staff writers, I know that we can accomplish little in the way of real changes there. However, each time BFAS puts their foot in their mouth, a few more turn around and perhaps help their local shelters instead. Of course, there are a few hardcore cases that come up occasionally, like the recent one on BFAS and Oreo’s Law.
But where are we at and where can we go on this? As most people naturally want to believe in “good” things and as really hard proof will be rare, what do people want to hear in order to decide that it’s a truthful story? Here I an taking my own experiences at BFAS, together with, whenever possible, multiple direct reports from people who have witnessed incidents and situations at BFAS. I am trying to include as many details as possible, many that are carefully omitted by BFAS. If anyone has a better idea on this, I’d really like to hear it.
Finally, for context, we have a situation quite unlike that with PETA. Instead, BFAS does have many good people and does some good things. Considering their size and resources, we are asking them for honesty, integrity and reasonable responsibility. For better treatment not only for the animals, but especially for the many good people. Over the years so very many people have relocated to the Kanab area to follow a dream, only to be cast out for caring too much, for being too responsible, and sometimes just for asking too many questions. In all this, both animals and people have suffered.
For more discussion: Best Friends Responds to Fencing Issue