Twisted egos began affecting animal care (Star, Sept 24).
This is a reply to Andrea and Florian Lemphers and Corey Sheffield (Star letters, Sept. 17).
So I hear that Andrea Lemphers had quite the media circus going on last week in Whitehorse (press releases flying left and right, CBC Yukon held an “open mike” day or two for her). It’s no surprise that the Cowardly Broadcasting Corp. was only interested in one side of the story, especially if the targets were (whether we were named or not, I am not aware at this point) Mike Grieco and myself, both well-known critics of that rudderless ship. Some of the criticism directed at the Humane Society Yukon and the operation of the Mae Bachur Shelter obviously hit a nerve. I can well imagine that references in my recent letters alluding to certain beasts of burden in the Yukon being sold out by those involved in drafting the updated Yukon Animal Protection Act were particularly not well-received.
The Lemphers and Sheffield avoided mention of my speaking out on behalf of dogs used as sled dogs, which they should reference if they want to challenge me in public. They instead spent most of the letter listing the multiple reasons justifying the destroying of dogs by the humane society, and itemizing a list of past accomplishments. (In my opinion, I found the writers’ rendition of the late, great Mae Bachur’s recognition of the need for euthanizing a certain quota of animals at the shelter named after her, distasteful, overly-exaggerated, and inappropriate.)
I would like to refresh the memories of Andrea Lemphers and Corey Sheffield that a few years ago, if you recall, we had crossed paths at the old Talisman restaurant in Whitehorse, where you both thanked me for my advocacy on behalf of sled dogs. I was also told that you had both known of terrible things that you were aware of that went on in the world of Yukon dog mushing over the years. While I appreciated the kind words, it struck me as odd that neither of you had ever written in support of any of my letters. Nor have I ever been aware of you speaking up in public yourselves about these modern-day slaves.
Gerry Steers, the society’s past president, wrote in her reply to me (Star, Sept. 7) that she “was involved with the updating of the Animal Protection Act, but the lead on behalf of the Humane Society Yukon was the founder of our society, Andrea Lemphers. She was the individual who had the most experience regarding the act, and we were grateful she was willing to contribute her time on our behalf.”
Steers also wrote that Mike Grieco “didn’t try very hard” when he was a board member (to obtain information on what Lemphers and Steers were saying to the Yukon government), as she “had never heard from him,” which is a puzzling and vague statement.
Andrea Lemphers cannot claim such ignorance, as she should have been aware that the “sled dog issue” was out there for several years. This was her opportunity to defend these animals, and speak out against the industrial-scale breeding and killing that take place today. (That’s even more so than in the old days, now that there is an entertainment aspect, and dogs are bred to meet the demands of the tourism industry.)
Both Mike Grieco and I had written letters about the behind-closed-doors “consultation” that was going on and attended the May 2008 Whitehorse information meeting. There, the government bureaucrat-slash-Yukon Quest volunteer race veterinarian, who was co-ordinating the consultation process, had the audacity to show up wearing a Quest polar fleece vest.
We raised the issue of the gun being used as a means of “euthanization” in the Yukon, referring to the 74 dogs shot by a Dawson City-area “dog hoarder” in April 2006. He responded as if we had both fallen off the back of a turnip truck. (There was nothing “illegal” about shooting the dogs. What would be illegal in the new act was the way the dogs were “kept” while they were alive.)
The animal rescue that Andrea and Florian Lemphers and Corey Sheffield did in the early years well deserves to be commended by Yukon society, but their opinions should not be allowed to snuff out opinions that differ from theirs.
I am thankful to have adopted our (late) beloved dog Boomer from the Lemphers before the shelter was built, and the incredible dogs we adopted from the shelter, Abby and Otis who are with us today. (Of course, there are also many happy stories of humane society/Mae Bachur adoptions by others.)
After the Mae Bachur shelter was built, there was a short honeymoon period where the place had a really positive atmosphere. It did not take long, however, for human nature to take over, and twisted egos started to impact the care of the animals. The place slipped into dysfunction. There were numerous examples of mean-spiritedness and vindictiveness from the executive and board. These examples rained down like a ton of bricks on some good volunteers, staff and other board members who tried to make positive changes, and on some unfortunate animals (like Hunter). Hunter is not the first animal betrayed by the society.
I will remind Corey Sheffield of the little dog named Honey, an early victim, which had a similar sad ending during Sheffield’s term as president. (Also, it was on Sheffield’s watch that a very special volunteer and shelter supporter was banished from the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.)
There is a memorial to Honey on the Humane Society Yukon website: “Honey was a boisterous, loving little girl led into a world of hurt and intolerance. Honey spent several months of her life at the shelter, happy, carefree, relentlessly waiting her chance at a normal life. “She was eventually adopted by a family and then returned to the shelter within three weeks after having allegedly nipped one of them. “Honey, sadly was euthanized on September 18, 2001. “Honey will remain in all of our hearts as an example of what happens when things go terribly wrong.”