Partners in Animal Care & Compassion
Concerns with Peninsula Humane Society
In response to PACC raising concerns about Peninsula Humane Society, we have on occasion been asked, "but aren't there far worse shelters than PHS"?
We find this to be an odd question given we're not aware of any instance where comparing oneself to the worst to rate how well you are doing, makes sense. This would be a failing proposition for any organization let alone the one we entrust with the care of our county's stray and homeless animals. Could PHS be worse? No question, they could be far worse. More important in our minds is, could PHS be better? Based on first-hand decades long experience, and the resources with which PHS has to work - they can be much, much better.
Given we live in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, in the heart of Silicon Valley, an animal loving community with the good fortune of a fairly well funded animal control contract (~$6.6M in 2022) we believe the following PHS practices must be addressed:
Regular euthanasia of healthy cats and dogs due mostly to the use of outdated and invalid behavior evaluations (see Why PACC and Research & References)
Too many dogs at Coyote Point are confined to kennels for too long, increasing their risk of euthanasia due to stress related behaviors. It is generous to say 25% of the dogs get out of the kennels daily (that would be a very good day at Coyote Point). This while many, including much larger shelters, are committing to every dog out of the kennel every day, because doing so results in higher life saving rates and much happier dogs
Too few volunteers at the Coyote Point shelter to attend to the behavioral and emotional needs of the animals housed there. For example, there are at best 20-25 active dog volunteers despite the 1200-1400 volunteers so often referenced. This despite plenty of volunteers interested in helping there. If 20-25 sounds like enough, consider this is an inflated number that PHS to date has not proven, in actuality the number is considerably lower; volunteers work part-time shifts at best a few days a week, as many have paying jobs; the Coyote Point shelter houses up to just over 100 dogs. That is nowhere near enough volunteers who are the ones who get the dogs out for walks and time in the yard.
Irrefutable evidence of breed discrimination. PACC used the Freedom of Information Act to request records of Rottweilers and Rottweiler mixes in PHS's care because while there we couldn't help but note how quickly these dogs "disappeared". Never did we witness any evaluations, nor did any Rotties make it to the 2nd Chance class we participated in every Monday for over a decade. Ultimately the records confirmed the vast majority of these dogs don't make it out of Coyote Point alive and do not get a fair chance at an evaluation (see Why PACC, Kona's story) and PHS records below:
Evidence of Breed Discrimination
Manipulating the numbers to reflect better outcomes. Unexpectedly the records referred to above revealed repeated instances of "Owner Surrender" recorded as "Owner Euthanasia Request", meaning the owners intent was for PHS to rehome the dog, but PHS killed the dog and claimed it was at the owners "request", which is directly contradicted in the records. This is a well-known way of manipulating the numbers to reflect better outcomes and it is disappointing that PHS participates in this practice.
UPDATE: We are delighted to report that our concerns appear to have made a difference in Zayla's life. Thank you PHS for taking the rare step of giving a rottie a chance on the adoption floor and subsequently finding Zayla a loving home to call her own!
UPDATE TO THE ABOVE UPDATE: While we had high hopes since Zayla's making it to the adoption floor, we have since noted several Rottweilers landing at PHS and not making it out the door alive. Zayla remains a unicorn Rottweiler who had the RARE experience of making it out of PHS alive. The staff conducting evaluations on Rottweilers are not shy about sharing their dislike and distrust of the breed. Is it any wonder Rotties are essentially dead on arrival (as proven by PHS's own records)?
Executive salaries that are out of proportion with going rates for equivalent positions in the Bay Area:
Former PHS Executive Director Ken White's salary was for decades, exorbitant compared to his peers. While Mr. White's salary which was reported as $527,575 in the most recent publicly available 2019 IRS Form 990 (pg 8) did go down from a high of $657K in 2013 - the reduced rate remained well above the standard range for Executive Directors at neighboring, including significantly larger, shelters:
SFACC: $167,076 - $213,200
Berkeley: $119,658 - $144,586
Oakland: $146,568 - $219,840
Contra Costa: $122,277 - $180,659
San Jose: $116,983 - $182,084
Other leadership salaries at PHS are also well above the norm paid by neighboring shelters, including 2 Senior VPs (paid $228,491 & $221,363 respectively).
The above coupled with several salaries in the organization paid well below the standard rate, demonstrates the organizations over inflated view of the importance of its top leaders while failing to acknowledge, and fairly compensate equally critical roles across the organization:
PHS pays its Animal Control Officers a starting rate of $18.08/hr despite salaries ranging from $25.69 - $36.86 at neighboring shelters.
Customer Service Representatives/Adoption Counselors are offered $18.08 to start at PHS. The going rate? $25.80 - $33.26.
Similarly, Animal Technicians, the individuals who play the critical role of ensuring clean and sanitary kennels are offered $17.87 to start at PHS while other shelters pay a range of $19.81 - $33.26.
See Salary Survey
2017 Civil Grand Jury investigation PHS holds the rare distinction of being the subject of a Civil Grand Jury investigation, in part due to allegations of unfair labor practices on the part of PHS employees. See Appendix A, pg 15, Veterinarian Report for the following concern: "shelter representatives described that the current mechanism for reporting any animal welfare concerns was to discuss the issue with a supervisor. There is no designated person in the organization that receives or follows up on staff concerns regarding animal welfare issues. This is a concern because employees and volunteers should be able to report animal welfare concerns without fear of retribution from a supervisor or colleague". PACC can attest that this concern, raised in 2016/17, has not been addressed.
2016-2017 San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury, Animal Care & Control in San Mateo County
PHS's mishandling of an unfortunate incident that led PACC to go public with these concerns - see Lola's Story
PACC has also been contacted by cat rescue groups concerned that PHS is behind the times when it comes to implementing a robust neonatal kitten care program and exploring a comprehensive community cat Trap, Neuter, Return program, both of which are increasingly common practice among shelters because of the promise they hold for humanely and more effectively addressing the cat overpopulation issue