There’s a major disconnect between volunteers and management at Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. I worked with Ferguson, one of the dogs euthanized recently, for almost two years. He was described as “aggressive.” With dogs, yes, but not with people. I took him to area parks, and he was friendly with all he met. He was a 2-1/2-year-old, high-energy dog who loved to run and play, go on hikes with me, ride in the car, swim in the river.
A volunteer who was known to take dogs out without asking staff took him on an Outward Hounds hike on Aug. 12. He didn’t know Ferguson and took him without a muzzle (which he wore because of reactivity with other dogs). This volunteer and another man tried to force a muzzle on Ferguson while all the dogs were barking around them; he bit the guy on the leg, as any dog might under those circumstances. He was put on “bite hold” and cooped up in his run for 10 days. During that time, the “quality of life” committee (headed by Executive Director Leah Craig Fieser and Director of Operations Jesse Winters) assessed him, consulting with an outside behaviorist.
Ferguson wasn’t on the quality-of-life list until his last week — not a good time to judge the behavior of an energetic young dog that can’t get out and exercise. I wrote a letter to Leah about the Ferguson I knew; she responded with an impersonal letter saying he’d be euthanized the next day.
Leah’s mission is to bring in “adoptable” dogs. She says there aren’t enough resources for rehabilitating long-stay dogs. Yet she gets a six-figure salary and recently remodeled the administrative offices. She has a “her way or the highway” mentality: If you speak out, you’re gone.
Two other volunteers and I did, and we’re gone. I’m hoping that Ferguson’s and Rhubarb’s deaths won’t be in vain. There’s a dedicated, talented group of experienced volunteers who want to do the work with the long-stay dogs. Why not let them do that and restore uncompromised compassion?
— Sandra Krakowiak
Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Leah Craig Fieser, executive director of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, with a summary of the letter writer’s points and received the following response: “Animal rescue is extremely emotional work. Part of our work, as with most nonprofits, is making really hard decisions that not everyone is going to agree with. We understand that most people only have a snapshot of the whole picture and are susceptible to false information. We continue to move forward in a way that is best for the animals in our community as a whole and for the longevity of our organization, whose work has a big impact on the lives of animals in Western North Carolina. I encourage readers to check out our blog titled The Hardest Decision on our website, www.bwar.org, and to be part of the solution through adoption, fostering, volunteering or donating to causes they care about. We’re grateful to our many supporters who make Brother Wolf’s critical work possible.”