The Jimplecute interviewed HSMC founder and former president Caroline Wedding over the course of the HSMC crisis that has now led to the “suspension” of services of for HSMC, according to board president Brooklyn Bradley-LaFleur.
Over the course of the past two weeks, the Jimplecute spoke with Wedding three times between Tuesday, Dec 4 and Monday, Dec 10 about the most pressing questions former supporters of the animal shelter had. Following is a transcript of her responses:
Jimplecute: When did this crisis start?
Wedding: Thanksgiving Day. Gayle Robinson came to the gate offering help. I was thrilled. She was not really here to do me any good, but what I needed was help.
Jimplecute: Did she harm the dogs in any way?
Wedding: No, not that I know of.
Jimplecute: How much is left of the $13,000 that the city gave in October?
Wedding: It will be not all there, because some has been spent, but it will be whatever Bob says needs to be there will be there. There’s a little over or right at 6,000 now.
Jimplecute: We did a story in August 2018 about the anticipated opening of the building
for the animal shelter in early 2019. What happened?
Wedding: Well, the city had said, in the city council meeting, and of course, I can’t hear well, since I had the bug in my ear for seven months. Once we got out of that city council meeting, I thought they had upped the pay, upped the contract amount, which they did, from $8,000 to $10,000, to take care of the dogs. Then, we’re going to give $13,000 for the building. That’s not how it was. It was, they were going to add $3,000 to it and give $13,000. I couldn’t do that, because that’s money that needs for next year for the dogs, to feed, and care, and take care of the dogs. I told them, I said, “I’m very sorry, but I’m going to have to turn down the $3,000, because it’s not enough to really do something with the building,” and I said, “I can’t take it and not do what I tell you I’m going to do with it.” It can’t be spent on the building. That $10,000 has to go for the animals.
Jimplecute: How much money is needed to complete the building?
Wedding: To get it in the dry? About $38,000. To get it in the dry would be wonderful.
Jimplecute: Everyone seems to say that the situation went downhill fast. Did you get a big influx of dogs, or were they beginning to take more and more of your time?
Wedding: No, I let a man go that had been with me for three years. I called Bob Avery before I did. The man was ill. He would have to do breathing treatments before he could leave here every day. I said, “Bob, I’m concerned,” I said, “that he’s going to die out here.” He said, “No, you’ve got to let him go, and don’t let him come back.” That was the downfall of it.
Jimplecute: What’s the ideal schedule for the dogs and the pens? How often are the dogs let out, and how are they cleaned?
Wedding: They [the dogs] had been getting out every day. They’re not getting out every day. They had stopped getting out every day. I could put them in the play yard, but I couldn’t walk all of them every day. They’re not being walked. They can’t find anybody to work, either. All of this army that was going to come out here? Nobody showed up.
Jimplecute: What would be your response when they say volunteers do come out here and they were turned away?
Wedding: We have had two people injured out here. Lottie at Blessings is one of them. She hurt her knee. We had another lady that came through the probation department that really hurt her arm. Now, we are indemnified, when they come through the probation department, because of the paperwork they sign. Just everybody that comes to the gate cannot do this kind of work. It is hard work, you know? It is, as someone said, it’s back-breaking work. It is really hard.
Jimplecute: How do you make that determination?
Wedding: When you’re looking at someone, and they’re having a little trouble walking and standing, kind of like I do, right now, when I get out of the car, I call it getting my feet under me. I know what I can and cannot do, you know? I thank them very much. “I really would like your help. There’s some things I know you can do,” I said, “but I would be concerned for you to be out here.”
Jimplecute: How many people did you turn away?
Wedding: Maybe two, three.
Jimplecute: Did you feel like you were getting enough support from the board once the man was let go? And when you saw that there was a heavy workload, did you ask the board for help?
Wedding: I was asking everybody for help. Missy [DeLong] was assisting me in going through Texas Workforce to get a worker from there. She just about had it all together, all the paperwork, the week they all got upset with me. The board doesn’t talk to me. They to keep it in house, and I think that’s the best way of doing it, as quiet as we can.
Jimplecute: What are your plans now?
Wedding: I am turning in my resignation. I think it will be best because there’s just too many different areas that we disagree in, you know. It’s like I was intentionally doing something to the animals, and I promise you, I wasn’t. In fact, I’ll tell you what I thought about. I had thought about, once this goes however it goes, it’s to come down and sit down and talk with you all [the Jimplecute], do an actual little interview.
Jimplecute: If it’s okay, can we just walk around and check on the dogs?
Wedding: You certainly can. On Friday, Dec 7, the Jimplecute walked around the animal shelter at 1300 North Street for the second time early in the afternoon during a rain shower. The smell of filthy pens was palpable coupled with fear that these dogs were facing nights of both rain and freezing temperatures was immensely disturbing. We left the premises and showed our pictures to HSMC volunteer legal counsel Bob Avery who agreed the situation was unacceptable.
That evening, the eight-day ordeal to rescue every one of the 78 dogs in the shelter began. It ended on Saturday, Dec 15 when 52 of the 78 dogs were transported to the Marshall Animal Hospital.
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