Oct. 17, 2017 - The ongoing controversy surrounding the Oregon Coast Humane Society (OCHS) has advanced significantly, with two important new developments happening this month.
An on-site inspection conducted by Florence Code Enforcement Officer Dan Frazier on Oct. 6 found no signs of animal abuse or neglect at the Oregon Coast Humane Society.
The inspection was prompted by an Oregon State Department of Justice (ODJ) inquiry generated at the Portland office.
Department officials were unable to comment on the record for this report, as the inquiry is still in progress, but officials were able to confirm a few basic facts about the situation on conditions of anonymity.
The department has received numerous complaints from residents of Florence regarding the operation of the Florence-area shelter and the legitimacy of recent board of director appointments. The DOJ also was forwarded articles published in the Siuslaw News that revealed volunteer and member concerns about the operational practices of the OCHS.
These complaints, and hundreds of additional emails referencing the issues at OCHS that inundated the Portland and Salem DOJ offices, were the genesis of the investigation.
The ODJ assessed the complaints and referred the concerns of area residents regarding animal welfare to the Florence Police Department.
Florence police then notified Dan Frazier, who has oversight responsibilities for animal welfare in the municipality, and he began an investigation.
Frazier did background interviews with professionals associated with OCHS and volunteers at the shelter.
He than made an unannounced site visit and was allowed free access to the kennels and cage areas of the facility.
Frazier’s report is available to the public and states clearly the sequence of events that led to his involvement in the case.
He was also able to speak on the record, as the case, No. 17-5346, has been closed, and he believes that any neglect that may have occurred in the past is no longer occurring.
“I am the main animal control person in the Florence city limits and have as much contact with the people there as anyone in town. As the dogcatcher and transporter of these animals to the [OCHS], I have never seen any behavior of any of the staff or volunteers that has caused me any concern,” Frazier said. “I saw all the animals in the OCHS and witnessed no signs of neglect or abuse.”
According to Frazier’s report, the kennels and cages that house the sheltered animals were clean and well maintained, food for the animals was safeguarded and the animals seemed well cared for.
Frazier said he believes there are currently no issues that require his involvement or further investigation. However, Frazier did state that any future negative information regarding the animals at OCHS would be cause to open a new investigation.
For the ODJ, another aspect of the ongoing OCHS situation is the concern by organization members that recent board appointments have been illegitimate, according to Oregon laws regarding the operations of nonprofit entities.
These concerns are the subject of a DOJ inquiry into OCHS practices, specifically directed towards the appointment of interim members to fill vacancies caused by resignation on the OCHS board.
The ODJ currently has these issues under review and is expected to make recommendations to the OCHS Board of Directors before the next board meeting, scheduled for tomorrow, Oct. 19, at 5:30 p.m. at the Laurelwood Community Center at 1137 Maple St. in Florence.
OCHS management declined to comment as of press time Tuesday.