By John Ramos

SAN MATEO (KPIX 5) — Workers with the Peninsula Humane Society are accusing the facility of not properly taking care of animals and offering long-standing promises to improve shelter conditions that have never materialized.

The facility in San Mateo is charged with caring for animals in crisis throughout the county.  But, there’s a bit of a dog fight happening within its own facility.

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“We’re here today because a group of employees have decided to come and blow the whistle about what’s going on,” Tim Jenkins with Teamsters Local 856 said.

A group of workers and their union leader held a press conference in the facility’s parking lot to criticize the treatment of animals at the shelter.

They said the buildings are old with a failing roof and that at least one dog died while penned in the back of a truck with no air conditioning.  They provided these images of a pit bull that was found injured with his head caught in a hole in his chain link enclosure.  A facility manager acknowledged the incident occurred.

“That dog had recently come in and clearly wanted to get out – was biting at the fence.  It did cause his mouth to get scratched up,” Lisa Van Buskirk, Sr. VP of Community Engagement with the Peninsula Humane Society said.

But she said it’s not unusual for a new animal to try to escape and then brought the dog out to show it now appears to be in good shape.  The workers said finding the money to improve the facility’s condition and low staffing levels are a low priority for the organization’s president, Ken White.

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“The president of the Humane Society … made $692,000 at a non-profit,” Jenkins said.

Management said the complaints are coming from a small group of union workers who have been trying to negotiate a new contract for more than a year.

Everyone agrees the building’s condition needs to be improved, but it’s a “he-said, she-said” argument about the how well things are really going here.

“And, I’d like to see things change here.  It’s been twelve years and it hasn’t changed.  This building’s only gotten worse, and things have only gotten worse,” said Vaughn Hyndman, an animal control dispatcher.

“We actually have very good morale here and the turnover’s really low, so it’s unfortunate that it has come to this,” Van Buskirk countered.

White was away on vacation Monday, and unavailable for comment. The union says the situation is so dire, it couldn’t wait for him to return before holding their press conference.

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