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Humane Society still awaits news on police raid; a third former employee seeks back compensation

In Humane Society, Marion on April 16, 2008 at 5:34 pm

A third former employee at the Cedar Valley Humane Society animal shelter has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation she says she was entitled to and was not paid.

The lawsuit by Nikole Ehrenberger is similar to ones filed in the last few months by two other former shelter employees, Sarah Young and Joy Jager.

Ehrenberger said she was dismissed by the shelter last summer.

She spoke along with a fourth former shelter employee, Tarah Young, Sarah Young’s twin sister.

Ehrenberger and the Young sisters, all 23 years old, remain in the animal care field, and all three would go back to the Humane Society shelter to work because caring for animals is their central concern.

Ehrenberger and Tarah Young, who also reported that she was dismissed from the shelter, say they could help make the Humane Society operation better than it was when they worked there.

The lawsuits are dwarfed by another Humane Society concern: The society’s board of directors continues to wait to see what the Marion Police Department has turned up in its investigation of the animal shelter’s billing records. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is helping the Marion department dig through the records.

In spectacular fashion, Marion police officers raided the shelter the evening of March 25 and seized business records.

The department is looking to see if the shelter overbilled customers. Those customers include the city of Marion and several other small cities in the county.

Stephanie Holub, Humane Society board member and media liaison, on Wednesday said the society’s board of directors was still waiting to hear from the Marion police.

She pointed out, as she did 10 days ago, that the board has implemented several changes in light of the police investigation and also a complaint filed by a former employee with the state veterinary board. The changes are:

— Hire an independent consultant to review and provide advice on the operation of the society’s shelter at 7411 Mount Vernon Rd. east of Cedar Rapids.

— Ask Doug Fuller, a Humane Society board member, active shelter volunteer and retired police detective, to take a formal leadership role at the shelter.

— Invite the Iowa Veterinary Board to conduct random inspections to put to rest any allegation of animal mistreatment.

— Ask the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission to investigate the accusations of a former employee critical of the shelter and its work environment.

In a talk with Ehrenberger and Tarah Young, both raised questions about the medical care of some of the animals and the quality of some employees when they worked at the shelter.




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