MINOT – A recent Facebook video has raised heat about a Minot animal shelter taking in out-of-state animals, to which the shelter responded.
The Stray Sanctuary, an emergency animal rescue out of Ray, recently posted a video on Facebook, which has received thousands of views, saying Souris Valley Animal Shelter turned down The Stray Sanctuary’s dogs because two litters of puppies were coming in from Tulsa, Oklahoma to SVAS.
“We’ve always backed Souris Valley,” Allison Parizek, founder of The Stray Sanctuary, told The Dakotan. “We’ve always stood up for them over the last year or so because they were helping us. Anytime we asked they would help. We formed a good relationship with them. Over the last month or so, when we’ve asked to move dogs toward them, we’ve been told they don’t have room.”
Though knowing SVAS has taken in out-of-state animals before, Parizek said this recent instance raised her concerns.
“For this particular instance to happen that I am directly seeing they are directly turning us away for the sake of two litters that are coming up here from Tulsa,” said Parizek. “That’s what they literally said to me. This isn’t just hearsay. I know that was all recorded, that was just in the lobby there at Souris.”
The SVAS board of directors wrote a response to the video, saying the shelter is currently holding animals from the Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue and the Dickinson Pound, as well as The Stray Sanctuary of which they said they have taken over 25 animals from. They also wrote they do not take stray animals from the Minot area because that contract is held by the Minot Veterinary Clinic.
“Ali from the Stray Sanctuary did not coordinate with any member of the staff to surrender animals, but was instead visiting to get pet food,” the board wrote. “When we work with rescues to bring in animals, we do so on a schedule. This ensures we have staff and medical care available for the animals that come in.”
SVAS also responded to the question of why the facility transports out-of-state animals, saying its goal is to reduce euthanasia at high-kill facilities, and out-of-state animals do not typically stay in the shelter overnight.
“The transports do not impact whether or not we can take animals in from our waitlist and are minimal compared to the total number of animals we serve each year,” the board continued.
Penny Volosin, who owns a one-person cat rescue out of Sherwood, has started a petition to remove SVAS executive director Shelbi Waters, who currently lives in Enid, Oklahoma.
The petition begins with the concern of transported out-of-state animals creating a problem of overpopulation in North Dakota. The petition also includes allegations of Waters obtaining public records of private citizens, the use of a domestic violence story to gain grant and appearance at a public speaking event, spreading misinformation about the Minot Pound and other animals rescues in the area, lack of transparency with SVAS grants and donations, and cease and desist orders directed at citizens raising concerns about SVAS.
“I requested information from the City of Berthold in regards to their contract with SVAS,” Volosin told The Dakotan. “The chief of police who is currently on the SVAS board is refusing to give me any information and is now in violation of the state's sunshine act. The AG is currently looking into the matter as well. We have turned them into IRS, FTC and DOJ for grant audits.”
Berthold Police Chief Al Schmidt told The Dakotan he is not currently on the SVAS board, though he has been in the past. Though he continues to work with SVAS, Schmidt said Berthold does not hold a contract with SVAS.
Waters told The Dakotan that she has never received any form of contact from Volosin.
“To my understanding, she has not requested to speak with the board at any point to address her concerns, nor does she have experience in animal welfare or nonprofit management,” said Waters. “She has not been to our shelter since I have been the executive director, at least 5 years, and is not in our system as being a past volunteer, dating back 8 years.”
Volosin said she has previously donated thousands of dollars to SVAS.
“I quit donating the month the new shelter opened because I was banned from site, building, and contacting them in regards to where the donations were going,” said Volosin. “I rescue feral cats, tame them, spay and neuter them on my own dime and relocate them to homes.”
“Penny was served with a cease and desist by our legal counsel for her incorrect statements in the petition,” said Waters. “The board conducted an internal investigation and found no truth to her accusations.”