6 On Your Side: All Eyes On The Humane Society of Wichita County - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

6 On Your Side: All Eyes On The Humane Society of Wichita County

More questions are surfacing regarding ethics and transparency at the Humane Society of Wichita County. An online petition against the group has garnered more than 800 signatures in the past couple weeks, several local organizations have decided to cut ties with the humane society and residents are demanding change.  "There's been ongoing issues at the humane society," said Lara Matisek, former volunteer at the Humane Society of Wichita County. "I knew that doing this would show that we are going to be standing together to get these answers." 

Matisek is referring to an online petition taking aim at the Humane Society of Wichita County. After being online for less than a month, it already has almost 900 signatures.

"We thought the petition would be a good way to have one, big piece of information that we could take to the board showing that it's not just a handful of people that are concerned, it's a lot of the Texoma residents," Matisek said. 

Matisek volunteered at the Humane Society of Wichita County from November 2011 to late 2014. She says she decided to leave after witnessing several questionable and unethical behaviors by management, some of which are pointed out in the petition. 

"If a dog is euthanized, we're being told the dog is adopted or they just don't know who it went to." Matisek said. "I think it's really important that we know every single dog or cat that goes into that facility. We know what happens to them, why and ultimately where they are."

The petition also points out the issue of dishonesty within management. Wichita Falls Police Officers were allegedly lied to by the humane society regarding a 'Fur-Ever Friday' dog named 'Shadow.' Fur-Ever Friday teams animals with officers to promote adoption. The humane society said Shadow was adopted, but rumor is the dog was either lost or stolen. No word on if that's what led the Wichita Falls Police Department to distance themselves from the group, but Officer Brandi Banda says the WFPD no longer features dogs from the humane society.  

Another local group, Paws for Greatness recently broke ties with the humane society. Diann Bowman with Paws for Greatness released a statement to Newschannel 6 saying "PAWS for Greatness would not go back to the Humane Society to train for the best interest of the at-risk youth in the PAWS for Greatness program." And Jan Herzog with Helping Hounds says they've decided to distance themselves from the humane society because of lack of trust. Herzog says they did not accept any dogs from the shelter in January and February of this year and they are currently working under a 'tentative agreement.'

We reached out to Buk Bukowski, president of the board of directors of the Humane Society of Wichita County, we have yet to hear back from him. We would go to a board meeting to get our questions answered, as would others, but the humane society does not disclose where their board meeting is held and when. 

"I just want them to really be a little bit more respectful to the community and understand that we just want to be heard." Matisek said. "We want our questions answered and we would really like to know the date, time and place of their next board meeting so we can be present."

She says an open forum wouldn't be used to harass or belittle the organization, but instead it would be a place for concerned residents to go to have a voice. Matisek thinks an open forum could help ease tension between the public and board members. 

"We know that the Humane Society of Wichita County needs serious, serious reform," Matisek said. "No place is perfect. There's always room for improvement. We're not talking about small errors or small mistakes. We need a huge reform." 

The Humane Society of Wichita County is not a part of any state or national organization meaning the board of directors is the governing body. The humane society does have a contract with the City of Wichita Falls which requires minimal reporting every year. 

According to State Chapter 823, there should be a shelter advisory committee overseeing operations, but that does not exist at the Humane Society of Wichita County.

UPDATE: Since the story aired, we have been informed the next board meeting will be held Tuesday March 31, at 6:30 pm at Best Western.

Kaylee Pfeiferling, Newschannel 6
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