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AG's Investigation of CT Humane On-going

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's investigation into The Connecticut Humane Society's practices is on-going. On March 30, the AG issued an interim report prompted by allegations of "mismanagement, problems in animal care, and unfair and hostile treatment of employees.” CT Humane Society's administrative office is located in Newington, CT. It also has a Newington animal shelter as well as shelters in Waterford and Westport. It is a private, non-profit 501(c)3 organization and does not receive state or federal funding.

The Attorney General had been investigating complaints about CT Humane for over a year. In the March 30 interim report, Blumenthal concluded that CT Humane “entered into financial transactions with businesses in which members of the CHS Board have a financial interest.” These transactions amounted to $175,000 to $258,000 for 2005-2007. Mr. Blumenthal suggested that this practice, though not illegal, “threatened the integrity” of the Humane Society.

Additionally, the Attorney General's report found that an excessive amount of money, more than $46 million of its unrestricted fund balance of $52 million, wasn't available to cover operating costs because the board had shifted it to a "board-designated quasi-endowment fund." Blumenthal's report said “this practice appears to be excessive and threatens to deprive [CT Humane] of resources to adequately conduct its core animal care and protection functions.”

Many complaints and allegations against The CT Humane Society focus on Richard Johnston, who until March 23, was both its President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. The Coalition for Change, a group of 150 current and former Connecticut Humane Society employees, volunteers, and others, coalesced in 2009. The group's website notes that although “individual reports of mistreatment and abuse of employees by Richard Johnston stretched back for years,” recent fears about the impact on animal care brought them to action.  Allegations against Johnston, not necessarily by The Coalition for Change, include: misuse of charitable funds, management’s preference for cost savings over animal welfare, abusive and inappropriate management practices and policies, and retaliation against employees who complained about animal care standards at CHS as well as those in support of unionizing. Attorney General Blumenthal indicates his ongoing investigation concerns how CHS handled charitable funds as well as allegations of improper treatment of animals. Other charges are being referred to appropriate agencies.

A CT Humane Board of Directors subcommittee recently conducted its own review, as Attorney General Blumenthal urged them to do. In an April 6 e-mail to supporters, board members report, “The committee found no evidence whatsoever that there is or was any financial misconduct at the Society.” The newsletter also says a national search is underway for a new Director. Perhaps in light of excessive euthanasia allegations at CT Humane shelters, the Board's newsletter also reports that a  “more modern euthanasia policy” will be implemented.

“Improvements to the safety of the workplace at all three shelters will be a continuing area of investigation for the Board of Directors,” the April 6 e-mail also reports. In March, CT Humane paid $6800 in fines to OSHA which found 10 workplace violations.

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