Board of Selectmen Recommend to Not Support Greyhound Friends License

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On Tuesday Night, in-front of a packed house at the HCAM studios, the Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed to recommend to the Town Clerk that a new license not be issued to Greyhound Friends. Selectmen heard from both sides during a scheduled public hearing that took nearly two and a half hours.

In January 2017 Greyhound Friends was ordered a cease and desist order by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. In February 2017, the town pulled Greyhound Friends License until they corrected the violations. Greyhound Friends applied to the Town Clerk for a new Kennel license on June 7th 2018. As stated by Selectmen Chair, Claire Wright to start the Public Hearing, Greyhound Friends elected to submit its license and recommended the Town Clerk took no action until the Board of Selectmen could hold a hearing to determine whether the Kennel had been maintained in a humane and sanitary manner.

Greyhound Friends Attorney, Elizabeth Rinehardt talked about the legal status of the organization: “after a 4 day trial in which 19 witnesses testified, Louise Coleman (former Director) was found not guilty.” Rinehardt stated that former Director and Founder of Greyhound Friends, Louise Coleman voluntarily resigned from Greyhound Friends in March 2017. “Since that date, she has had no involvement in Greyhound Friends governance, management or Kennel operations nor will she in the future.”

Lieutenant Bennett of the Hopkinton Police Department spoke about the Police inspection of the Kennel. Lt. Bennett stated that the inspection took place on September 6th and some of the findings included: no air conditioning, no heat or hot water, needed inspection report for sprinkler system, signage for sprinkler room, fire extinguishers need to be inspected and advised on location and mentioned numerous size violations of Kennels. He also stated multiple records for dogs were either missing or incomplete. Lt. Bennett concluded “the facility is not currently capable of providing a humane and sanitary environment for the kenneling of Greyhounds based on their size.”

Selectmen Chair, Claire Wright stated a long list of documents that were entered into public records as evidence. Part of the record includes 117 letters the town received in support of Greyhound Friends and 86 against Greyhound Friends including a petition with over 1,000 signatures. Some of the other documents entered into the record included violations on dog capacity and records of unauthorized out of state rescue.

The current Greyhound Friends Board and Staff were next to plead their case. Greyhound Friends announced that their new President Elect is Caryn-Amy Rose while Teri Shepard would serve the staff role of Kennel and Operations Manager. The President elect of Greyhound Friends stated that the organization has changed substantially and wants to continue their mission of saving animals. “Greyhound Friends is ready to operate in a more modern and responsible manner while remaining true to its core mission.” Terri Shepard announced she will resign from the board to take over as Kennel and Operations Manager. Shepard stated that they will have a licensed Veterinarian working with the organization and that they spent $50,000 on renovations in the past 6 weeks.

Opposition included Lieutenant, Alan Borgal of the Animal Rescue League of Boston who stated that the Kennel is in worse conditions and does not meet standards. “I have no faith in the current Greyhound Friends Board of Directors or Staff to maintain a kennel license.” A former Director of Greyhound Friends, Leslie Doyle stated that she is not opposed to Greyhound Friends reopening and doing advocacy work but does not think they are able to care for dogs. Another former Board Member, Kathy Lundgren stated that she resigned because they did not force the Director to do the right thing. “The Board told Ms. Coleman that if she didn’t follow the improved performance plan that she would be removed, the board did nothing.” Former Greyhound Friends Dog evaluator Julie Waxstein stated that what she witnessed at Greyhound Friends was “highly abnormal and very troubling.” Veterinarian adjunct professor of Public Health, Dr. Joann Lindenmayer stated members of the Greyhound Friends board failed to address problems in-spite of repeated warnings for more than a period of 10 years.

The public comment session featured many from both sides stepping up to the mic. Some of those against Greyhound Friends cited specific examples of Dogs that were left untreated after suffering from medical issues. “My dog had to be rescued from a rescue” stated Jackie Landry. Some of those for Greyhound Friends mentioned that the shelter may have struggled because of attempting to save too many dogs. “When they brought in other animals, things deteriorated a bit.” stated a former Volunteer and proponent of Greyhound Friends.

Selectmen, John Coutinho stated that Greyhound Friends may have run their course. “With many of the same people running it, I can’t see it changing.” Selectmen, Irfan Nasrullah agreed, “some of the things found at fault should have been corrected by now.” Selectmen Brian Herr stated that the organization needs to completely restructure; “This particular case did not go nearly far enough in talk about restructure.” “Only way to fix it is stop it and truly restart it.” Selectmen Chair, Claire Wright was against the license renewal; “every corrective measure recommended by animal welfare professionals has been ignored.” “30 years you have tried to fix the problems of Greyhound Friends and for 30 years it's failed.”

Official Ruling: "The Board of Selectmen voted that based on the evidence presented at the public hearing, the Board recommends to the Town Clerk that he not issue a kennel license to Greyhound Friends in accordance with its current application. (5-0)"

Greyhound Friends can still apply through the Town Clerk for the license but if approved, the Board of Selectmen could revoke it after an additional public hearing.

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