The Humane Society of Washington County introduced a new executive director last week and, in so doing, acknowledged that the agency might be in need of some new directions.
Michael Lausen, former operations manager of the Humane Society of El Paso, Texas, will replace Paul Miller, who departed in November for unexplained reasons.
Two of Lausen’s stated priorities involve policies that many in the community believed received short shrift under Miller’s leadership: animal placement and financial transparency. Lausen stressed the need for creative placement options, such as foster families that care for pets until a permanent home can be found. He also indicated his belief in a greater dialogue with the public, so residents will feel confident that their donated dollars are doing good work.
Correct or not, the perception in the county was that the Humane Society under Miller was too quick with the needle.
And financial transparency in this job is a must. Without it, potential contributors will lose confidence in the agency, making a hard job even harder.
This isn’t to say that Miller’s service to the county is not appreciated, or that he was not adept at dealing with some difficult — some would would say no-win — issues. But his management style was all-business, and in an agency that taps into so many emotions, it’s easy to see why the board might want to steer a gentler course that is friendlier to both people and pets.
As anyone who has worked, volunteered or spent any time in a shelter can attest, few jobs tug at the heart strings and churn the stomach more than determining the fate of loving animals who have no one to love them back.
We thank Lausen for taking on this challenge. In a society where people sometimes seem more concerned about the welfare of animals than they are about the welfare of children, this is no easy job. But we like what we have heard from Lausen so far and wish him all the best.