Consider the video linked below a preface to the story series you’ll read here in the next few days about Haven Humane Society.
“Picking God,” by the RyanMountainBoys, seems the perfect way to introduce this bizarre chapter.
Meet Norm Ryan. In the video he’s the daddy with the guitar.
He was Haven’s CEO for less than a year. He quit in April in the middle of a police investigation. Ryan now faces prison time, if convicted of a slew of felonies related to his dealings at the shelter, including identity theft, grand theft and embezzlement by a public officer.
By and by, Lord, by and by.
It took more than 50 years for Haven Humane Society to slowly grow to the pinnacle of its success. It was renowned far and wide as a well-run, state-of-the-art animal shelter worthy of community praise and pride.
In the last year Haven’s reputation has taken a beating.
Insiders blame the Preston/Ryan administration, which one person characterized as a “hostile take-over.”
As an aside, educator Ray John was hired recently as Haven’s newest CEO. He has agreed to talk with us soon about his new job.
Meanwhile, Haven outsiders look on in bewilderment.
Many long-time Haven insiders and dedicated supporters are troubled by what they’ve seen and heard. They’re angry about the damage done to their beloved organization. They worry about the effect this damage will have on the animals Haven is charged with helping.
Some people continue to ask questions that Yvonne Preston (seen here in a photo from Haven’s previous website), the shelter’s former board chair-turned-interim-CEO, has yet to fully answer.
• Questions about full disclosure of money contributed to Haven, including private donations, estate funds and even coin-collection jars.
• Questions about staff firings, lay-offs, demotions, intimidation and an exodus of loyal Haven employees, supporters and board members.
• Questions about Preston’s connections to Ryan and Rich Steele, the shelter’s former operations director of just three months.
I’ve asked Preston questions, too.
It’s hard to get answers when Preston abruptly hangs up on phone conversations before they’re finished.
It’s hard to get answers when Preston ignores emails.
Of the few times Preston and I have spoken, she made two statements that I later learned were flatly false. (Check back for details.)
This gives me great pause.
What’s really happening at Haven? Why different versions of the same stories?
Why all the secrecy? Why make employees and board members sign contracts that forbid them from talking about Haven? What could they possibly say that would harm Haven?
Now I wonder if there’s any truth to bizarre stories that seem out of character for a so-called professional shelter, like pig-harnessing contests.
Preston behaves as if she thinks the public is not entitled to know what’s happening inside Haven.
She behaves as if she’s forgotten that Haven depends upon public money (hello, city of Redding) for its support.
She behaves as if she’s forgotten that Haven’s doors are open solely because of this community’s generosity and goodwill.
Maybe you’ve paid Haven when you’ve adopted a pet.
Maybe you or your kids have plunked coins inside a Haven collection can on a grocery-store counter.
Or maybe you’re like one elderly Redding couple who’ve donated thousands of dollars to Haven over the years but still wait for an acknowledgment from Haven that it’s received their most recent gifts.
No maybe about it: When it comes to what’s going inside Haven, the public is entitled to answers.
Check back for the next in a series of Haven stories.