There are times, intentional or otherwise, when a board cannot just "stand by their man". The Cheyenne Animal Shelter is a case example. In an effort to demonstrate animal control techniques, presumably in the best interest of the staff, the Shelter's CEO used pepper spray on an animal. While apparently not a policy, the practice was anything but well received and resulted in a lot of chatter by friends of the shelter, the staff and board and subsequently, the CEO's initial suspension without pay followed by his resignation. The board did not publicly fault the CEO as having used bad judgement or having violated a policy and in fact, offered praise for who the CEO's reputation and even noted they were sure there was no ill-will intended. Whether such a proclamation even with the resignation will mollify donors remains to be seen. But it is clear that the board must now revisit its written policies to ensure there is clarity about what is and what is not acceptable animal treatment and what must be done to ensure staff safety. Were I the board, I would make sure that all are clear the board knows what next it should do in this regard ahead of hiring the next CEO.
From KGWN Cheyene:
Former CPD Police Chief, Shelter CEO Resigns
CHEYENNE, WYO (KGWN) Cheyenne Animal Shelter CEO and former CPD Police Chief Bob Fecht stepped down from his position with the shelter Friday evening.
In a press release sent out by the Cheyenne Animal Shelter, the Board indicated it accepted a letter of separation from Bob Fecht.
Fecht was suspended without pay for six weeks in September for his role in the pepper-spraying of an 8-month-old pitbull mix named Tanner.
An investigation by the CPD concluded with the recomendation charges of animal abuse be filed against Fecht and two animal control officers involved in the incident.
This week, District Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg said he would not seek charges against Fecht because there wasn't enough evidence to prove a Wyoming law had been broken.
In the statement, CAS said Fecht is "a highly respected member of the Cheyenne community. He is a former Wyoming State Senator, and served as the Cheyenne Chief of Police from 2002-2009. He has also spent nearly two decades serving on nonprofit boards."
The CAS Board of Directors said they will begin a nationwide search for Fecht's replacement immediately.
The full statement from the Cheyenne Area Shelter can be read below.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – October 5, 2018 – The Cheyenne Animal Shelter Board of Directors has accepted a letter of separation from Bob Fecht, the organization’s CEO. Fecht was suspended without pay in September after he used pepper spray on a dog that had bitten a shelter employee to demonstrate how employees could use spray as a deterrent if they felt threatened by an aggressive animal. The Board will begin a national search for a new CEO immediately.
The incident generated a great deal of controversy for the shelter. In a statement announcing Fecht’s suspension, the board said “The decision to use an animal, aggressive or not, in pepper spray training as a way to simulate a realistic scenario and demonstrate its effectiveness for employee safety is one that the Shelter Board feels was not justified and cannot support. After reviewing all of the facts of both incidents, the Board feels confident that the decision to use an animal for pepper spray training was not made with the intent to cause harm or inflict punishment on the animal. However, it also feels that the decision was rash and made without proper consideration of alternative training methods.”
After the board’s decision, Bob Fecht issued his own statement: “The Cheyenne Community and the Cheyenne Animal Shelter have recently been embroiled in a controversy over actions that I and I alone undertook. Many of the shelter staff and members of the Board of Directors have felt the repercussions of the controversy both professionally and personally. I wish to apologize to our entire staff, Board members and the community as a whole for creating this situation and embarrassing our organization in the process.
The Cheyenne Animal Shelter has for years been considered one of the premier shelters in the United States, and it has been my privilege to work with our outstanding staff. There was never any intent to cause injury or damage to the animal involved, nor was there any intent to tarnish the reputation of the organization. While my primary goal was driven by an intense desire to protect our employees who are subjected to animals of questionable character every single day, upon reflection I realize that the decision I made was a personal and emotional reaction on my part and I sincerely regret not having considered alternatives before acting.”
Fecht is a highly respected member of the Cheyenne community. He is a former Wyoming State Senator, and served as the Cheyenne Chief of Police from 2002-2009. He has also spent nearly two decades serving on nonprofit boards.
“Bob Fecht has been a trusted friend and inspirational leader to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter for many years,” said Tammy Maas, president of the CAS Board of Directors. “We respectfully accept his decision to step down and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.”
Although many community members were calling for legal action, after an investigation by the Cheyenne Police Department the Laramie County District Attorney’s office decided not to file charges of animal abuse. In response to the incident, the CAS board recently announced a series of changes including appointing an interim CEO and a new board president. In addition, the staff will receive supplemental training using deterrents such as water spray bottles, canned air and citronella.