With the Maui Humane Society (MHS) Board of Directors' announcement of Sandy Shelby as the new CEO, effective July 15, one wonders what to expect. As an experienced seasoned professional, Shelby must have researched the situation on Maui when applying for the position, so seemingly, she must be aware of the challenges she faces.
How does she view the dual responsibilities of a nonprofit agency shelter dependent on donations to function, while accepting the $1 million contract work of Maui County for responsibility of animal law enforcement.
I hope she can balance the challenge of coming to Maui as a "Mainlander" learning the idiosyncrasies of our island home, and at the same time, use her experience there to bring much-needed, positive, progressive change to MHS. I hope she can also escape the ponderous "this ain't the Mainland" babble that continues the same old ways.
The MHS mission statement includes the words, "save the lives of unwanted pets," so my hope is that the kill rate will immediately begin to decrease. "Rescue and protect them from suffering," is also in the statement, so increased and stronger law enforcement of county and state laws by the animal control officers is needed.
In replacing the long-term CEO who resigned, those who were dissatisfied expect improvement. Those who were content hope Shelby can do as well as her predecessor. But as the CEO employed by a unchanged board, which seemed completely satisfied with the departed leader, should one expect the new executive to perform as her predecessor did? After all, that is what her employers expect and appreciate. But that would not be progress.
With a few exceptions, many of the other Maui animal welfare organizations formed in the past decade perform services to complement the overall needs of Maui's animals, are staffed by volunteers, many formerly associated with MHS. One would hope a new CEO could bridge the gap between MHS and the other organizations. Since much of the negative relationships between the prior CEO and members of the smaller organizations had been fostered by years of disagreement, I look forward to better overall treatment of more of Maui's critters.
I would hope for much greater transparency at MHS under the new CEO. Several years back, this was promised but never fulfilled. Each request for data and statistics was met with delays and obstacles, and all board meetings were closed to the public. Perhaps a fresh perspective can induce a change in attitude and policy.
Finally, I would hope some of no-kill principles could be instituted as a way toward progress. Sometimes the term "no-kill" is misinterpreted to mean no animal going into the shelter is ever killed for any reason, which is ludicrous. But if such aspects as trap-neuter-release-manage; pet retention; accelerated adoption and foster care programs; rescue partnerships; low-cost (or free), high-volume neutering are instituted under he direction of an industrious, creative CEO, watch the kill-rate descend.