Humane Society Responds to Allegations

- HAGERSTOWN, Md. - A former employee of the Humane Society of Washington County filed a civil lawsuit against the organization claiming abuse of animals.

Now officials from the Humane Society are speaking out against the allegations made by the woman who wants her job back.

Amanda Surber filed a civil lawsuit back on December 6, against her former employer, the Humane Society of Washington County.

In the suit, she cites 86 separate issues including horrific instances of animal mistreatment and abuse.

Surber is filing violations under one count of employment retaliation, one count of discrimination, and one count of failure to pay overtime.

"I can't reply to specific parts of the litigation, but it is a personnel issue, and we as a practice, we don't discuss personnel issues in the media or in the public. That's for the court and at the right time. So this really isn't a question of, is this a good shelter or not a good shelter, it's a personnel issue," said the Board President of the Humane Society, Shannon Cianelli.

And officials from the Humane Society are responding to questions regarding their policies, including their stand on euthanasia.

"And that does happen here, as it happens in any shelter. We take it very seriously, and we proceed humanely and fairly in our decision making. The staff that perform the procedure are trained, and we follow the best practices that any other organization that performs euthanasia or vet office does," said Director of Operations of the Humane Society, Ellen Taylor.

The Humane Society is also addressing the claims Suber makes about improperly assessing canine behavior, saying there is no template, and it's all individualized.

They also say they vaccinate all dogs and cats upon arrival to the shelter. And at the time of adoption, they spay or neuter, and provide microchips for the animals.

As for the claims Surber made against the work environment, officials had this to say.

"I'm proud to work here,” said Ellen Taylor. “I've worked in animal welfare for a very long time, both coasts, both boarders, nationally and locally for animal shelters and I've worked with many, many groups. I live in the area, I'm from the area, and I wanted to work here. I am so impressed with the people, and I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't think these were people committed to saving lives," she said.

WHAG is still waiting to get in touch with Amanda Surber. She's claiming over $100,000 of damages, and again, she's also asking for her job back.

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