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Sonsini Shelter Accuses City Of Locking Them Out of Shelter
Staff Reports,
02:32PM / Saturday, March 31, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter erroneously posted that the city had changed the locks on the shelter in the midst of ongoing trouble with the facility.
The trouble was a bent key but it spoke to the turmoil at the shelter as the city seeks to terminate its contract with the nonprofit agency.
On Saturday morning, someone from the center posted on its Facebook that staff was locked out of the shelter and that the animals were in danger. The day before, police and the city's animal control officer had reportedly informed the staff they had to relinquish control of the building but then had backed off until Monday.
"This morning we are locked out of the animal shelter. We have animals that are on medication. We have others that need certain foods — the city knows none of their conditions. Start calling the Police Department and the mayor — they need to let my employees back in so that our animals will be cared for properly. Officer [Joseph] Chague and Captain [John] Mullin assured me yesterday that we could deal with this with the officials on Monday — changing locks in the middle of the night is a cowardly move and puts our animals at risk," the post apparently authored by Sonsini Board President Krista Wroldson-Miller.
However, Police Lt. Matthew Kirchner says the locks were not changed and when officers responded to the shelter Saturday morning, the employees were taking care of the animals. He said the employee had trouble with the lock but ultimately, the key opened the door. When iBerkshires arrived on site around 9 a.m., shelter employees were working and police were leaving, offering to return with a new copy of the shelter key later in the afternoon.
Sonsini later updated its post to read, "although we are convinced that something was done to the lock at the shelter (our employee broke his key attempting to get in) everyone can rest assured that we are currently in the shelter and taking care of the animals."
The drama comes shortly after the city opted to end its contract with the shelter and ordered the organization to vacate the city-owned building in the Downing Industrial Park. But the staff is refusing to leave. The shelter has been involved in an ongoing struggle over leadership that has ended up in court.
Board President Krista Wroldson-Miller and Treasurer Judith Trumble are fighting to retain leadership after the other board members voted them out. However, the pair is claiming that the ousting was illegally done. The in-fighting stems from disagreements over former shelter manager Lori Robertson.
Last month, the shelter was given notice that the contract to care of the strays for the city was ended and the organization had to vacate the building by the end of this month. According to the Berkshire Eagle, on Friday officers went to take control of the shelter but were rebuffed by Sonsini leadership.
Wroldson-Miller did not respond to a request for comment.
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