Statement from the One By One Rescue Project on the separation of Yolo SPCA from Yolo County Animal Services
Effective today, July 1, 2018, Yolo SPCA is no longer contracted with Yolo County Animal Services. As many of you know, as a rescue organization, we have pulled many dogs from YCAS over the past 3 years and during that time, we have gotten to know the programs there very well. For those who don't know, Yolo SPCA has been contracted with YCAS for many, many years so this change is a major event to happen at YCAS. Yolo SPCA is it's own organization, a non-profit, just like us, who has partnered with YCAS, the county operated shelter, to provide a variety of services. The services primarily provided by Yolo SPCA include operating the behavior modification program, managing the shelter intern program, posting all the rescue pleas for at risk animals, facilitating adoptions, and a myriad of other services. They also supported the shelter run foster program and volunteer programs. These services have been critical in increasing the live release rate at the shelter and are all programs are widely promoted and supported by the No Kill Equation which aims to save the lives of treatable animals. Any rescue who has worked with this shelter has encountered Yolo SPCAS staff. Anyone adopting a dog from the shelter has more than likely worked with Yolo SPCA staff. The impact Yolo SPCA has had on saving lives in Yolo County is immeasurable. Anyone who has encountered the Yolo SPCA staff knows how hard they work and how instrumental they were in getting the shelter to where it is today.
We know this is long but it's a story that needs to be told. We've been sitting on it, trying to come up with the right words to say to convey how upset we are and how very much we intend to do everything possible to right this wrong, and we feel it's time to speak out. We ask that you read the entire post.
Two weeks ago Yolo SPCA announced they would be leaving the shelter and no longer providing the supportive services they have done for so many years. As a partner rescue, and one who has worked with this org saving those lives most at risk, we were devastated by the news. Devastated, but not surprised. Sadly, this move was a long time coming due to many reasons, all of which were preventable.
There have been a few posts going around from community members or current/former volunteers, but to date, no one has spoken openly about what lead to this change. Yolo SPCA has chosen not so speak publicly about their exit and we respect their decision; however, we are not able to follow in their footsteps. We are not able to remain quiet because the truth deserves to be told and the lives of so many animals at YCAS are in jeopardy and that doesn't sit well with us. For those of you who have followed us for a while, you know we are not an organization who conducts ourselves hyper-emotionally or is contentious or volatile, or goes around attacking individuals or organizations. We simply choose to always conduct ourselves professionally and keep our focus on the animals. We don't have the time or desire to engage in that sort of behavior. In speaking out today, please know how seriously we take what has happened at YCAS. We want you all to know that this is a big deal and it needs to be taken seriously and something must be done about it-which is why we are speaking out. To sit silent would be ethically wrong and we cannot do that. When speaking out needs to happen, we will do it, and today is one of those times. We made the decision to call out those responsible by name solely for the purpose of being transparent and ensuring that the right people are held accountable.
YCAS has a county position called Volunteer Coordinator. This position has various roles but this person is primarily tasked with operating the shelter foster and volunteer programs. The position recruits, trains and supports foster families and volunteers. We all know how critical those roles are in saving lives. Many dogs do very poorly in the shelter environment and having a robust volunteer program gives these dogs much needed time and attention outside their kennels. Having foster homes gives these dogs a chance to go into a home when the shelter stress has become too much, preventing them from ending up on the kill list. Foster homes also take in kittens and cats in need. Without these programs, animals become highly stressed and/or sick in the shelter and this leads to higher pleas to rescue organizations to take these animals or to higher kill rates. The shelters Volunteer Coordinator left about two years ago and the search began for her replacement. The previous coordinator worked tirelessly to build up the foster and volunteer programs and when she left, both programs were flourishing and continuing to grow. The open position was eventually filled by a woman named Jonne Rodarte who had a very impressive resume. During the interview process she also presented with the polish of someone who appeared willing and able to do the job. She was hired by Chief Vicky Fletcher.
Within a few weeks it became apparent that Ms. Rodarte's interests were not in working with her peers or undertaking the duties outlined for the Volunteer Coordinator. Her behavior quickly began to rub many people the wrong way, staff and volunteers alike. In speaking with a variety of people, common themes emerged regarding concerns about her. To many, she appeared afraid of the dogs. Surely someone who had worked with dogs for so many years couldn't be afraid of them? Additionally, no one knew what she did all day as she wasn't recruiting fosters and she wasn't recruiting volunteers. In fact, foster families and volunteers were leaving in droves. We have spoken to many of these individuals. Many report she began creating discord between staff and volunteers by spreading falsities and trying to pit people against one another. She began picking apart the positive based behavior program that existed, operated by Yolo SPCA professionally trained staff. She wanted to implement negative based training instead, but volunteers spoke out against this as they knew the current behavior modification program was working and a best practice and did not support punishment based behavior mod. For those who don't know, via Yolo SPCA, YCAS is one of the only shelters around who had an actual, trained, certified dog trainer operating the behavior program and this is so important to mention because there is a BIG difference between someone who has some training knowledge and someone who has actually attended professional dog training school and is certified as a trainer. Why Ms. Rodarte felt she is more qualified to be running the behavior program than a certified trainer is beyond us. Her credentials do not support it.
Since arriving, Ms. Rodarte has spent her time dismantling all the programs that were saving lives, programs that were working and making a difference prior to her arrival and no one can figure out why. She claims to have many of her own ideas, yet has never put forth anything that would benefit the shelter more than what already existed. And why attack those who have dedicated their lives to making things better at the shelter? Why not be a colleague and work together with those who were there long before her and working tirelessly to save lives? Many volunteers and staff went to Chief Fletcher to voice their concerns and each time, Chief Fletcher ignored them. Ms. Rodarte was smart, Chief Fletcher was the one person she had aligned herself to. So when their concerns were ignored, people started leaving. Volunteers aren't paid, they are there out of the goodness of their hearts, that's it, so when they are abused and ignored, they don't have any reason to stay, despite caring deeply about the animals. They tried to voice their concerns but were consistently met with dismissal and accusations by Chief Fletcher. Eventually, there was almost no one left and despite everyone's efforts, Chief Fletcher simply didn't care about what was going on and repeatedly sided with her new employee.
FACT: Two years ago the shelter had a healthy and growing dog foster program including short term foster homes. Today, not only are there few fosters, the program consists of a few individuals doing day trips with dogs but that is about it.
FACT: Two years ago the shelter had a robust dog volunteer program. Today, there are very few volunteers left who work with dogs.
FACT: Two years ago the shelter had an effective, positive-based behavior modification program. Today, the behavior modification program left with Yolo SPCA.
FACT: Two years ago shelter rescue pleas resulted in a few a week. Today, rescue pleas result in multiple per day.
FACT: YCAS promoted a fundraiser, hosted by Ms. Rodarte, to allegedly raise money for a new shelter, something that has never been spoken about publicly before by YCAS and when asked where the money went, no answer was provided.
In the past two years, only one thing changed, and that was the position of Volunteer Coordinator. Yolo SPCA staff continued to work hard to save lives. They continued to try and operate despite losing volunteers and staff, critical people who had dedicated significant amounts of time to the shelter. Conversations were held with Chief Fletcher, to no avail. Chief remained aligned with Ms. Rodarte, something we find very perplexing but we cannot speak to their relationship. How a Chief can sit by and watch all the shelter based life saving programs dismantled and hear person after person come to her voicing the same concerns about the same person and do nothing, disturbs us. Chief Fletcher has a duty and an obligation to lead shelter operations in a manner that results in a healthy environment and one that supports life saving. Chief Fletcher has failed.
Since Yolo SPCA announced their departure, several people have tried to appeal to Chief Fletcher and her response has been the same; either she ignores the people or she makes excuses. She has not and is not exhibiting the professional skills necessary for a leader. She has chosen her personal relationship with Ms. Rodarte over dozens of volunteers and staff and over the lives of the animals she is charged with protecting.
Why Ms. Rodarte worked so hard to get rid of Yolo SPCA remains a mystery. Why Chief Fletcher supported Ms. Rodarte's efforts remains a mystery. If contacted, both these women will likely deny these claims. They are protecting one another. They will claim the life saving programs remain. They will claim the change is for the better. You will see posts on the YCAS FB page claiming to have such programs. Don't be fooled. Chief Fletcher and Jonne Rodarte are not good for the animals of Yolo County. They are on a power trip and that has nothing to do with saving lives and everything to do with ego. Together, we can hold them accountable and we can right this wrong but it can't be done alone. Community support is needed in order to make this happen. There is a group of people beginning to gain momentum to address what has taken place at YCAS.
What can be done? Contacting Chief Fletcher seems useless. Contacting Sheriff Prieto is likely useless as he's on his way out. Writing the Board of Supervisors hasn't proven useful as many issues have been brought to their attention over the years only to be ignored. At this point, we simply want people to know what is going on. Ignorance is protecting Chief Fletcher and Ms. Rodarte and ignorance will cost the lives of so many helpless animals. We want every citizen in Yolo County to know what is going on. Word has to get out. We can start by SHARING this post with everyone you know. We can start by inundating the Sheriff's office with phone calls demanding answers and in person meetings, even if they may all be ignored. Emails demanding answers have proven ineffective but serve as a strong paper trail. Some folks are appealing to the grand jury to start an investigation into what is happening at YCAS and hopefully hold those responsible accountable. We are doing everything possible to support these efforts. It is time for action.
Yolo SPCA needs to be reinstated as a contracted partner and allowed to operate their life saving programs and be free of abuse at the hands of Chief Fletcher and Ms. Rodarte. It is imperative in order to continue to save lives and continue to improve services in Yolo County. Despite having deplorable shelter conditions, Yolo SPCA was able to drive the live release rate into the 97-98% range and this is no small feat. Their programs worked. They cared. They didn't have ego. They made a difference. Yolo County needs them. The animals need them. The rescue community needs them. We all must stand up and tell the Sheriff's office that this will not stand and changes need to be made immediately. We hope you can stand with us and with the animals of Yolo County and send a strong message that we will not tolerate bullying from people with personal interests who do not care about the fate of homeless animals in Yolo County.
Sheriff Ed Prieto Ed.Prieto@yolocounty.org 530-668-5280
Chief Vicky Fletcher Vicky.Fletcher@yolocounty.org 530-668-5287
Yolo County Board of Supervisors:
District 1 Oscar Villegas, Chair
firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 375-6440
District 2 Don Saylor, Chair email@example.com
DISTRICT 3 Matt Rexroad
firstname.lastname@example.org Office: (530) 666-8621 | Cell: (916) 539-0455
DISTRICT 4 Jim Provenza
email@example.com or 530-757-5554
DISTRICT 5 Duane Chamberlain
firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 666-862
Davis City Council:
Brett Lee, Mayor email@example.com
Gloria Partida, Mayor Pro Tem firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Arnold, Councilmember email@example.com
Lucas Frerichs, Councilmember firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Carson, Councilmember email@example.com
West Sacramento City Council:
Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor (916) 617-4706
Chris Ledesma, Mayor Pro Term (916) 617-4708
Mark Johannessen, Council Member (916) 496-7605
Quirina Orozco, Council Member (916) 617-4705
Beverly "Babs" Sandeen, Council Member
(916) 617-4707 firstname.lastname@example.org
Woodland City Council Members:
Enrique Fernandez, Mayor
Xochitl Rodriguez, Mayor Pro Tempore
Angel Barajas, Council Member
Marlin H. "Skip" Davies, Council Member
Tom Stallard, Council Member
Reposted with permission