Opponents to shelter director’s firing speak out
Charlie Moen says he wants people to know the truth. Moen is married to Arlette Moen, the longtime executive director of the Circle of Friends Humane Society who was fired Sept. 23 by the Grand Forks animal shelter's board of directors during a c...
Charlie Moen says he wants people to know the truth.
Moen is married to Arlette Moen, the longtime executive director of the Circle of Friends Humane Society who was fired Sept. 23 by the Grand Forks animal shelter’s board of directors during a closed executive session.
He approached the Herald on Friday with a letter he wrote giving more context to his wife’s termination.
“My wife feels abandoned, rejected and somewhat betrayed,” he writes. “She has put over 20 years of work into that organization, helping bring it up from an old potato house on the west side of town to what it is today…”
In an interview with the Herald, Moen said his wife has not been doing well.
Reasons behind Arlette Moen’s termination have not been made public by the board, which fired her Sept. 23. The shelter’s Development Consultant Gary Shields said Moen was not fired but “released” as a part of a reorganization of the shelter’s management.
In his letter, Charlie Moen alleges part of the decision came down to a sick dog that was put to sleep. The 12-year-old dog was in a great deal of pain and he said no amount of vet work would have alleviated it, he wrote.
“It seems that now you need to have board approval to put down an animal even when it is in pain,” Charlie Moen writes. “There were two other reasons given, but they were even more petty than this one. It boils down to the fact that in a right to work state, you don’t need a reason.”
The other two reasons identified by Moen in an interview include his wife’s practice of pre-signing checks before they were made out to recipients, though he notes they were always kept in a safe, and the shelter not having a contract with a local thrift store that said it donated part of its profits to Circle of Friends.
Shields, who said he does not sit in the closed executive sessions, said the topic of Moen’s release is inappropriate for himself or someone else who was not in the session to comment on.
Charlie Moen ended his letter with the question: “Does anyone not want to know the truth?”
Jack Chatt, a former board of directors member who resigned the day Arlette was fired, also wants the board to share more information with the public and the shelter’s donor members.
Chatt, who served on the board for almost three years, is unhappy with how the situation has been handled. He and his wife Janet say they took to the shelter’s Facebook page several times between Wednesday and Thursday to air their disagreements only to have the posts disappear minutes after being posted.
“I know it’s not illegal,” Jack Chatt said about the posts being taken down. “There’s about 928 members. They own it. I can’t imagine that 928 members would agree to censorship.”
Shields said he is unaware of any posts being removed from the Facebook page, but added the page is still operating under protocols developed by Arlette Moen.
“If something is being removed, it’s because it’s something that is derogatory toward the Circle of Friends,” Shields said.
Chatt provided the Herald with a statement he said was close to what was posted to the shelter’s Facebook wall.
“I was so ashamed of how a handful of people totally disregarded feelings of the staff, Arlette and the 900 or more members,” Chatt wrote. “Today I removed the COF from my estate planning and my life insurance policies. This is the biggest single gift you would have received so far this year. It was with great sadness that I did this because the COF has been like a second home for almost three years for Janet and I.”
The shelter continues to post pictures of pets and events on Facebook and Shields told the Herald on Tuesday things are “going great” at the shelter, but Moen and Chatt said they do not agree.
“People are on pins and needles out there,” Chatt said Thursday, adding many employees are staying because they want to be sure the animals are receiving proper care.
Moen’s letter paints a similar picture: “There has been some hired staff that has quit and others that would like to, but because of circumstances they need the job until they can find other employment.”
The board of directors is holding a meeting this coming Wednesday to appoint an interim director for the shelter.
It also will appoint four new members to replace Chatt and the three others that resigned at the Sept. 23 meeting.
Chatt said he and the other three members left the Sept. 23 meeting before a vote took place. In the end, their resignation brought the number of board members to 11, which he said allowed a successful vote to dismiss Arlette Moen to happen.
“If we would have walked out and not said a word then they couldn’t have voted for a dismissal,” Chatt said. “The minute we did it, we gave them the power to do it. It really chaps me.”
A closed executive session is also scheduled for the Wednesday meeting for “an attorney/client meeting to discuss the executive director and related business.”
Shields told the Herald on Tuesday the board will be discussing management restructuring during the meeting.
The meeting is set for 6 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at the Circle of Friends shelter, located at 4375 N. Washington St.