FAAS Left out Details

Editor: I have followed the letters concerning the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) with great interest. Congratulations to this animal shelter for a successful 2013. We need such a facility in Alameda and depend on FAAS to protect and care for all animals. However, the public should be made aware of a grave incident that sparked all the controversy, one that the executive director would like to sweep under the rug: a dog mauling of an experienced volunteer on Oct. 11, 2013. The victim, Susan Solomon, was just as devoted to FAAS, if not more so, as the others writing letters about the shelter. She had personally trained numerous volunteers at the behest of the FAAS administrators and was well liked and respected by the staff. What I don’t understand is the neglect of a human, whereas the animal shelter’s goal is to provide loving care for all animals. There was very little consideration shown for Solomon, who went two months with no word from the executive director to inquire about her health. When asked, the director said simply that she had been “side-tracked”; a hurtful comment to someone who almost needed to have her foot amputated and who still is in physical pain today. FAAS has made numerous improvements in its operations, but sadly last Oct. 11, it failed to implement the very procedures that would have saved Solomon from injury. Before the attack, behavioral evaluations of animals were minimal. On the date of the attack, no evaluation documents were posted on any kennels, warning volunteers of possible danger. Therefore for the volunteers, this dog was categorized as safe. During the attack lasting a full five minutes, Solomon was alone in the kennels and the public adjacent shouted to the staff for help. There was neither provision nor equipment to rescue a volunteer from attack. The rescue itself was predictably chaotic. Solomon has avoided amputation thanks to doctors’ efforts to clean her deep wounds. Her friends and neighbors have stepped forward to re-bandage her foot, take her meals, run her errands, walk her own dog; all normal daily activities being impossible to accomplish. Her work schedule was upended for months. She could not put weight on her foot, so life stopped for her. FAAS owes Solomon an apology for the mismanagement of this sad event. If we treat animals with kindness, why can’t we treat the human volunteers who help them with the same concern?

— Patricia Bowen