Haven Humane Society: Hell in a handbasket – Part 2


How could such unbelievable events happen at Haven Humane Society of Redding?

• This flier advertised an organizational meeting at Haven Humane Society for dog weight-pulling enthusiasts. To watch an example of dog weight-pulling, click on this YouTube video that shows the event practiced elsewhere in the U.S. (Update: The location was recently changed to a Perko’s Restaurant.)

• And there’s this first-hand account from some Haven insiders about conditions in which cats and kittens were recently found:

“Many of the cats were sneezing. Several had what appeared to be eye infections. Others were covered with fleas. No empty cages anywhere. One cage had 10 cats from five different age groups: a young mother cat nursed six kittens, two of which were old enough to be weaned. An adolescent cat paced inside the cage, while two tiny kittens, no more than 2-weeks old, were lying still. At first it appeared as if they were dead, and that their eyes were not yet open. Closer inspection showed that the kittens’ eyes were actually swollen near-shut with infection.
“A 50-gallon container marked “Kitten Chow” was empty. In the storage area – usually stocked with canned dog/cat food and specialty animal food – were fewer than 15 cans of dog food and two small, very dented cans of adult cat food. No kitten food or formula. In place of animal food on the shelves were several boxes of condiments (mustard, mayonnaise, etc.).
In another cage were two tiny kittens of nursing age with a chunk of unidentifiable meat in their food bowl. It resembled a slab of raw chicken breast. The kittens were near-bursting – so young they required stimulation in order to eliminate their bladders and bowels, too young to eat regular food.”

•Finally, there’s the mind-boggling human angle. Meet Norm Ryan, Haven’s previous CEO: Hired May 2007, “retired” April 2008, investigated by Redding police less than two weeks later, arrested June 18 on embezzlement-related charges, arraigned July 25, free on $25,000 bail as he awaits trial. (We have something new to report on that front under the heading: Things aren’t always what they seem.)

• Within the last few months, by some count, nearly 20 Haven staff, volunteers and board members have left the shelter. Some said they fled a dysfunctional, hostile work environment. Some said said they were fired or forced out. Some said they quit in frustration and/or disgust. Some said their positions were suddenly eliminated, only to magically reappear on Craigslist. Last, some said their positions appeared on Craigslist even before their employment was terminated. This unprecedented talent-turnover has left the shelter lacking crucial institutional memory, animal-welfare experience and skill.

• Many longtime Haven employees said they’d love to explain what exactly’s happened to them and the animal shelter. Many mentioned mandatory Haven contracts that threaten dismissal for disobedient workers who air Haven’s dirty laundry.

Meanwhile, the majority of Haven’s board will not talk, return calls or reply to emails. (Note: I suggested in an earlier post that board members couldn’t talk because they’d also signed papers similar to shelter employees’ shut-up forms. I’ve since learned this may not be true, though I’ve yet to find a board member who’ll talk, let alone confirm or deny anything.)

As Nadine Bailey, Haven’s board treasurer put it, “I cannot talk, nor will I talk.”

Is there hope for Haven? Perhaps.

On Aug. 1 Ray John became Haven’s newest director. He and I talked at length a week or so ago about his vision for Haven, and why he thinks he’s a good leadership fit for the organization, despite his lack of animal-shelter experience. The final story in this series will feature John’s take on Haven, and his plans to help it heal.

Even so, John is quick to remind us that he knows nothing about Haven’s past, which is why he limits his discussions to the future.

Fair enough.

Unfortunately, one important piece of John’s missing-information puzzle remains firmly entrenched within Haven. It’s something identified many times by a variety of Haven supporters as the root cause of Haven’s current troubles. With a few surprising exceptions, over months of interviews, most Haven insiders spoke both on and off the record about this single issue.

In a perfect world, reporters quote all sources on the record.

But once in a while a story comes along that warrants telling, with or without names, on or off the record.

Haven’s tale is one, illustrated by this shelter loyalist:

“I served on the Haven board for (many) years. Under the guidance of such excellent leaders as Tom Little, Bob Timone and Joel Warner, I saw it grow into a strong, highly respected organization dedicated to improving the lives of animals,” said one dedicated Haven supporter.

“Then, over the past year and a half, I have watched it – as the saying goes – go to hell in a handbasket. It has been heartbreaking. For many months I’ve tried to get the other side of the story.”

This week, we will continue with the other side of the Haven story.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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42 Responses

  1. Avatar Eleanor T says:

    Doni – please tell us that Ray John has cancelled this 'weight pulling' disgrace!! Please, please, Ray…………..don't let Shasta County be a place that allows this atrocity! The dogs can't refuse, so we must do so for them! The name 'Haven Humane' just doesn't belong in the same sentence as 'weight pulling.'

  2. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    This entire story makes me weep.

  3. Avatar Miss Information says:

    Thanks for covering this story so thoroughly, Doni. Excellent job!

  4. Avatar Bob says:

    I think I know what has happened at Haven Humane over the years: Laurel and Hardy have been running the place:

    You remember the Laurel and Hardy comedy teamin don't you?

    Oliver would always come up with some big scheme, and then have Stan do the work.

    And living up to the part, Stan would always find himself in over his head, without the ability to perform the task properly, thus creating a mess.

    Or, as Ollie would so often say, "That's a fine kettle of fish you got us into."

    Ollie would always blame Stan for getting them into trouble, even when it was Ollie’s idea in the first place.

    And this is why Haven Humane is such a mess. It's high time to dump the Laurel and Hardy routine. Ray John? On day 20 of your tenure with Haven . . . Rome was not built in a day but some drastic changes, please, are needed sooner rather than later. Are you listening, pal?

  5. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Doni, Thank you and Kelly for investigating this sordid animal story from a once respected organization. It's sad to see and hear of the way these wayward animals are treated but sad but true the county pound is bursting at the seams too and live in dirty feecees covered facilities.

    That last CEO is a real loser and shouldn't have been there.

    Hopefully, Dr. Ray John can get Haven back on track. We can only hope and support a once proud Haven Humane Society.

  6. Avatar EinsteinsMom says:

    Haven Humane has nothing to do with the weight pulling group. They offered the use of their classroom a couple months ago, and since this poster was printed the location of the meeting changed. Haven is in no way connected to this group. Doni, I'm a little surprised that this wasn't checked out before this was published because the contact information is available.

  7. Avatar pam says:

    .einstein's mom: haven offering a classroom for discussions related to weight pulling, is nothing more than an stamp of approval without voice. think about it. would you allow someone to teach a class on manufacturing meth in your kitchen? wouldn't that sound like you were condoning the activity? the fact that haven would allow their name to be included on any activity such as this, is deplorable. it follows right in the heels of their other problems. (sounds like city hall? what more could go down in redding?)

  8. Avatar Kirsten Plate says:

    Doni- I wanted to BARF after reading this story- under which rock do these NEANDERTHALS live??? Please- not in Redding.


  9. Avatar Bob says:

    Pam, as Einstein's Mom stated the location of the weight pulling meeting was changed to agree with Haven Humane who had the foresight to head off protests by uninformed people. This move is a positive step for Haven in many's opinion. Because the sport is controversial it was my understanding the meeting is being held to provide knowledge to the community hopefully providing rules and statistics. I believe the organizers will listen to both sides of the debate and make an informed decision to move ahead or not.

  10. Doni,

    1) To associate the Dog Sport Weight Pulling with the debacle of Haven Humane is down right wrong!

    2) To imply that the legitimate Dog Sport of Weight Pulling is somehow "cruelty to animals" is also not only wrong but VERY misinformed. In which I would expect Doni Greenberg to have better sense in doing complete research before assuming… and we all know what assume means!

    3) This is adding unneccessary controversy to an otherwise legitimate dog sport event that allows various breeds to work off their energy in a positive way. We don't consider Sled Dog races as cruel, the other dog sport, Cart Pulling cruel. These dogs are trained in a special way to not cause injuries, to give them something positive to do, and burn off their energy. Many of these "Bully" Breeds would be sentence to death by uneducated individuals, simply because they don't understand the Breed. We don't consider plough horses hauling or oxen hauling cruel.

    4) It would have been better had you contacted the folks in charge of this activity and received some information on training, education, benefits, and disadvantages and what breeds are best suited, safety concerns, etc… rather than just throw out a general accusation of wrong-doing… this is almost a case for defamation lawsuit.

    Come on Doni, I expected better from you!

    Kathy Dunn

    Dog Trainer

  11. Avatar EinsteinsMom says:

    I've seen the Code of Ethics for this weight pulling group. It mandates positive training techniques, provides strict standards for the health and well-being of the dogs, emphasizes safety and sportsmanship, and provides enforcement if members violate the Code of Ethics. Any kind of abuse or neglect of a dog would not be tolerated. These people seem like very good people, who are interested in providing an activity well suited to the "gladiator" dogs. We have many such dogs in our area, many of which have few if any positive outlets for their energy. This could also possibly be a very good opportunity to send a message promoting responsible dog ownership, the value of positive training, and how incredibly rewarding it is to form a partnership with your dog by working closely together. The kind of relationship that develops when you get the dog out of the backyard and start training together as a team.

    I don't participate in this sport, but my husband and I attended a competition a few years ago because we wanted to observe. The dogs all appeared to be in excellent health. We saw no signs of any kind of forcing. We didn't see any signs of abuse or signs any dogs had been fighting. We witnessed the handlers using positive techniques with their dogs. I didn't see anything that even raised any yellow flags. And when we went there, one reason we went was to look for problems. We found none.

    I suspect that people who want to abuse their dogs will stay home and continue to do just that. They are probably not the kind of people who would get involved with dog sports anyway.

    Whatever the outcome, these folks want to make a positive contribution to this community. Maybe they will form a group, maybe they won't. Personally, I hope they do. I think there is much more to be gained than lost.

    OK, give it your best shot! I don't stick my neck out very often because I'm not comfortable in a confrontational situations, but go ahead and let me have it.


    I will be away from the keyboard, so if you decide to crucify me and I don't respond, that's why.

  12. Avatar EinsteinsMom says:

    Weight Pulling Code of Ethics

    Objectives: Training and competing for fun, with a positive reinforcement only! The dog will want to do the sport if they have the drive, if the dog is not driven for the game, he will not be forced into it. This club’s main goal is to keep great working dogs out of the back yard and into a sport that they love.

    Sportsmanship: All members of the weight pull club must conduct themselves in a professional and “Sportsman Like” manner. You must be a positive attribute to the club as well as the sport; there will be no negative talk about other clubs or internal club members.

    Health: Weight pull members agree to maintain good care and health standards. Members must provide sufficient and quality food for an athletic dog(s) with high drive. This includes proper veterinary care, regular vet visits and drug testing will be mandatory for dogs that compete. Any means of enhancing performance artificially, or other wise harmful to the dog(s), will not be tolerated!

    Safety: Each handler must be responsible for their dog’s safety as well as other dogs around them. In this sport your dog doesn’t have to be social. However, if your dog is “Dog Aggressive” you must be sure to keep your dog out of a situation in which an accident can occur. These accidents can result in serious injury to other dogs as well as handlers.

    Enforcement: If there is a written statement submitted alleging violation of the Code of Ethics, the infringement of these codes will be addressed before the Board of Directors. It will then be decided how to proceed according to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Weight Pulling Club.

  13. Avatar Karen Calanchini says:

    I've watched videos of this so called "sport" read a little about it and I find it to be cruel. To compare it to plow horses or horses which pull wagons, etc. is like mixing apples and oranges. Horses are built to pull and carry, dogs are not. What possible enjoyment could there be watching a dog pull that much weight, head down and stuggleing so hard, with a crowd of people yelling. How long does it take for the dogs body to break down?

    If your dog needs to get his energy out, take him for what comes naturally. A nice long hike and some good old-fashioned ball tossing.

  14. Doni Greenberg Doni Greenberg says:

    Dear Einstein,

    Thank you for reading the site and taking the time to share information about dog weight-pulling.

    It would be nice, in the spirit of full disclosure, if readers knew your true affiliation with tonight's dog weight-pulling group. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you one of the organizers? Doesn't your name appear on the most recent informational email about the venue change?

    Think so.

    Also, I beg to differ regarding your assertion that Haven is not remotely involved in this event. You know and I know that the name I blacked out on the above flier belongs to a Haven employee.

    As to the reason for the location change from Haven to Perkos tonight, sources say this happened because of complaints from people who found the flier objectionable and offensive.

    Just wanted to clarify. Carry on, everyone. 🙂

  15. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Ruh-roh. Scooby Snacks anybody?

  16. Avatar Noneurbeazwax says:

    In response to Karen Calanchini . Dogs have been used for pulling for hundres of years. Get your FACTS STRAIGHT!!!!!!

  17. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    Dogs will work until they fall over to please their masters, or to avoid being beaten. I did not see a dog "enjoying" this; I saw a dog obeying, doing what he was trained to do as people yelled at him and pounded the floor. This is a "sport" in the same way that bear-baiting is a "sport."

    God, this is sick. I sincerely hope Haven Human will immediately end all association with this kind of thing.

  18. Avatar Michele E. says:

    Gee, I feel a weird need to rise to the defense of Laurel and Hardy! Bumbling though they were, these two lovable fools didn't have a mean or dishonest bone in their collective bodies! The recent revelations about Haven Humane fall much lower on the scale of human behavior!

  19. Avatar Philbert says:

    I'm with Michael E. on this one. Stan and Ollie don't need to be pulled through the mud by association with Haven Humane, or by a dog team, either.

  20. Avatar EinsteinsMom says:

    Back to the keyboard:

    I am in a support capacity only because of my experience with starting dog clubs. Yes, I did send out e-mails, advising people I know that a club was interested in forming. Some people were interested, others were not, some found it objectionable. I expected all of those responses before I sent it out. I won't be sending out any more e-mails regarding this club, not because of any public reaction or anything I read in these comments, but because my original intent was simply to let people know this group was forming.

    I will not be competing in this event, this is not where my interests lie. I'm involved in other things.

    Yes, that person works at Haven. Another person might work at a local drug store. Yet another might work for the county. What they do in their spare time is their own business. Again, Haven Humane has no relationship with the weight pullers. I know this for a fact. I don't understand why nobody wants to believe that. I think that if this meeting was originally scheduled at another location, it would not have received this kind of response.

    Please see Bob's 2:46 post regarding the change in the meeting place. That's no secret.

    I'm disappointed in you Doni. I've enjoyed your columns for years. I had heard through the grapevine that RS let you go because you stood by your principles and refused to get involved in just this type of thing, and I admired you for that.

    Have a nice evening everyone, it's been nice, but I'm dropping out of this conversation only because I don't think it's productive.


  21. Avatar Darcie says:

    Noneurbeazwax said:

    In response to Karen Calanchini . Dogs have been used for pulling for hundres of years. Get your FACTS STRAIGHT!!!!!!


    Please, let’s keep this discussion respectful and polite. FFT is a place where we could learn from each other; everyone has a right to express their opinion. Your comment was fine but you lost credibility with the last sentence of bold type ‘yelling’.

    Could you please cite reference material regarding dogs “pulling for hundres (sic) of years?”

  22. Avatar Darcie says:


    EinsteinsMom said " I am in a support capacity only because of my experience with starting dog clubs. Yes, I did send out e-mails, advising people I know that a club was interested in forming. Some people were interested, others were not, some found it objectionable. I expected all of those responses before I sent it out. I won’t be sending out any more e-mails regarding this club, not because of any public reaction or anything I read in these comments, but because my original intent was simply to let people know this group was forming."

    Thanks for addressing your role. I believe it is important for readers to understand if someone posting comments is involved in the issue. It provides clarity. I believe that what Doni pointed out is the same; that your name was on the flyer as as a contact person/organizer.

    Whether or not this dog sport has a place in Redding is a different issue as it seems to me, that the Flyer was used as an example of activities that does not fit the stated mission of Haven Humane Society.

    From their web site:

    "The mission of the Haven Humane Society is to prevent cruelty to animals, to protect them from suffering and fear, and to promote their general welfare, as defined in the Society's Statement of Principles and Beliefs. The Society initiates, continually evaluates and refines policies and procedures instrumental to the fulfillment of this mission including: Shelter, care and rehabilitation of homeless, unwanted and abused animals through screened adoptions; Provide continuing education of the public on matters concerning the unique needs and humane care of animals; Provide emergency medical treatment for ill and injured animals of unknown ownership; Investigate and pursue prosecution regarding cases of cruel abuse or neglected animals; Promote sterilization to reduce the over population of domestic companion animals; Provide euthanasia as a humane alternative for the unwanted, severely injured and terminally ill; Provide Community Outreach including regular convalescent hospital visitation, outreach adoption programs and care for animals of women entering refuge or hospitalized senior citizens; Provide Foster Care and Outreach services through local volunteer families Provide family dog obedience training and behavior problem solving."

    I did not see anywhere in the mission statement the support of individual dog clubs or sports clubs.

    I learned a long time ago that if there was a perception of conflict of interest by many, there probably was a conflict of interest. I know you say it was only the classroom that was being used. In hindsight maybe you can understand how the flyer did give the perception it was connected to Haven. In the short flyer, there were three connections: 1) the location, 2) the wording "We are forming a new weight pulling club" under Haven Humane, and 3) the association of a Haven staff member. I did not see the contact phone but I do wonder if it was their home number or the office number. In any case, in order for the public not to be confused, additional wording to the effect of "this meeting is not sponsored by Haven Humane' would have been helpful.

    I am so looking forward to the next installment of this series. It will be a challenge for Ray John to rebuild so many bridges. I am anxious to read of his plans to save Haven Haven and earn back the respect and support of the community!

  23. Avatar Chere McMillan says:

    Hi Darcie,

    To answer your question regarding dogs and "pulling," there are many activities that promote taking advantage of a dogs natural opposition reflex. To put it simply, that's the reflex that makes sled dogs and St. Bernards do what they do. It is why dogs pull when they are on leash. It is why they lean on you even harder as you try to push them away.

    I do not participate in weight pulling with dogs, nor do I care to. There are abuses in any sport involving animals, some more than others. And on the other hand, many animals that "have a job" are treated much better than many pets. They receive regular exercise, nutritious dog food, veterinary care and human companionship.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ray John today. I am impressed with his commitment to bring Haven Humane back to the outstanding facility that it was prior to Spring of 2007. He seems very interested in learning about shelter management and animal welfare. I feel that with his business knowledge and willingness to learn, he will accomplish everything he hopes to do. I truly hope that the Board of Directors will remove themselves from the everyday running of the facility and let him do the job they hired him to do. He deserves a chance and support.

    A lot of shenanigans have gone on during the last 1 1/2 years. A lot of unanswered questions, secrecy and a touch of paranoia. Doni and Kelly have done an outstanding job of seeking answers (and raising more questions) to help clear the veil of mystery that has been covering Haven Humane. Very nice job, ladies.

    I wish Haven could be “fixed.” Wish we knew what happened to our donations. I want it all! I will be patient; I just might get both my wishes.

  24. Avatar Ginny says:

    When Sandy left a couple of years ago, Haven really changed. She is now doing her own 'Haven

    in Palo Cedro. God bless her. From her, she saw that my husband and I had adopted the most lovely Pom, who spent her time with me while Chuck was dying from cancer. And, so loved him. She is gone now also, but at least Sandy is still around, but with her own shelter.

    Sorry Haven has turned out so bad. But, how did it really happen, is much to be asked and answered. Dog Pulling. A sport! And, for whom! Not the animal!!!!!

  25. Avatar 4catz4me says:

    There are some animals who come up with their own forms of entertainment and participate in "play" on a voluntary basis. Otters dart and bankslide and chase through the water. Macaques play with snowballs.

    Most animal "sports", however, are created solely for the entertainment and perverse enjoyment of humans. The questions to ask would be: "Would this animal come up with this activity on their own? Do they volunteer for this activity or does someone have to tell them to pull the weight, run the track, jump over the gate, walk with a completely abnormal gait, or whatever?" The list of cruel and unnatural behavior exacted from animals in the name of sport includes, but is not limited to: horse/dog/etc. races, rodeo, the running of the bulls, bullfighting and many others. Those who commented that dogs, especially, will damn near kill themselves to please are absolutely correct. Add to all of that the cropping of ears and tails so someone can tell you how perfectly your animal fits into the mold of mandatory modified appearance. What's wrong with the ears and tails they're born with? Why do we need to breed animals who have serious skin, eye and ear problems because someone promotes the idea that all those deep skin wrinkles and folds are cute? Why do we breed cats to the point that they're faces are all pushed in and they can hardly breathe? What's wrong with people that they can't see how usurious they are? What makes people think that all this stuff is OK?

  26. Avatar Because I Know says:

    4catz4me- Excellent comments!

    Yes, the dog pulling ordeal is bad but what about the other issues that have been going on at Haven.

    The cat/kitten situation sounds horriffic and I think it should be addressed sooner than later. Also, one can only hope that Yvonne Preston and Cheryl Wright are no longer in charge of anything. They have been the main cause of problems for months. Hopefully Ray John will be able to turn things around.

  27. Avatar 4catz4me says:

    If only I were a little better proofreader…..;-) If I sub "their" for "they're", will everyone forgive me?

  28. I cannot say that I know anything about this sport. I will say that I watched the Youtube link to the video and found myself nauseous. I am sorry, you may have facts and statistics, but at the end of the day you are responsible for the welfare of your animals and I personally would not put any of my dogs in a competition like this. It seems cruel.

    The debate about Haven had made me sad. Growing up we owe a lot of my greatest childhood dogs to Haven. I remember being uplifted when they ran the news about their record no kill streak earlier this year.

    I have a member here in my club who volunteers and for her sake I wish we could move on. I honestly believe that there are still people working and volunteering there, who remain there for the sake of the animals and for the vision we all have of the shelter. I sincerely hope that the man taking over can continue to move forward and I wish him the best in implicating his ideas for a better Haven in the future.

    I hope one day it will be a no kill shelter permanently.

    Until then I remain saddened and dismayed by it all.

  29. Avatar Karen Calanchini says:

    Noneurbeazwax – your statement "dogs pulling weight for hundreds of years"….might you be thinking of this ?

    Pulling children in carts is not what I observed on the video link from Doni's site. What I saw was cruel. I owned a 135 pound German Shepherd that was very tall, as well and yes, he pulled a little wagon with only one small child at a time. He enjoyed it, because he was not struggleing as the dogs in the video were and no one was yelling and pounding the floor for him to move faster.

  30. Avatar Karen Calanchini says:

    Noneurbeazwax – your statement that dogs have been pulling for hundreds of years is curious, so I did some research and am wondering if this is what you are thinking of?


    This is not what I viewed on the link from Doni's site. What I saw were dogs being treated in a cruel manner and my guess is, if you gave them a choice to be pulling, or chasing a ball that his guardian was lovingly throwing for him across a open field, he'd pick chasing the ball. I know this to be true because I asked my fur kid that just now, and he totally agreed with me!

  31. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Doni. I can't believe all those allegations about Haven Humane. At least I don't want to believe it, but I have received corresoindence from them lately wanting donations. After all this, I just can't send any donation until I know for certain that Haven has straightened out. Those poor animals! Makes me very upset. We adopted our cat from there 10 years ago. He is the greatest! Thanks for keeping us informed. I hope Mr. John can get the ship upright. Pat

  32. Avatar smarterthanu says:

    First of all responding to the folks that believe haven should be a no kill shelter and yet are I.E. "Appalled " by these conditions. If you were educated in they way a shelter runs and animal sickness, then you would know that having a great number of animals in the same "room" or tight area creates a cold referred to as URI. As it is shelters that are FORCED to euthanize, fight with this sickness among cats every day. Through Haven's decision to "try out" the no kill policy, they in return had to deal with more URI less space and a lot less funds to treat the animals that, other wise could have been seen by the vet and possibly saved. I believe that Haven does a great job! If you don't think so, then just stop for a second and imagine Redding with no Haven at all….. Then What! What is our alternative then? County? How many of you would rather go and drop an animal off at the county shelter rather than Haven Humane? Just a thought.

    Second of all what a dog would do naturally as a sport would be every behavior that us as humans would not tolerate! There for to create a sport that allows an extremely high driven working dog to blow off steam, would be the next best thing. If you would like your dog to get loose and run the neighborhood killing cats and other dogs then that’s your prerogative. Although I can guarantee that not everyone is going to see it your way. So I think that I would much rather see dogs do weigh pulling which, YES they do enjoy, then killing other peoples cats, dogs and biting children. I know for a fact that you cannot make a dog do something well enough to compete if he doesn't want to do it! They have to have the drive for it! If you don't believe that these dogs don't enjoy this then you didn't look at any other video then the one Doni put on this Blog. Here is one that will be more resourceful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPPsUQlQ9KE Now of course we are going to have people say that they are training these dog to fight Blah Blah Blah. Please read your facts first, there has only been 3 complaints on weight pulling in the last 20 years, and if you can find any cruelty cases proving that weight pulling is cruel please bring it to the blogs attention. Thank you for your time.

  33. Even in the You Tube video that Doni did point out… what may appear to be "screaming and yelling" was in fact, praise and encouragement, especially in other videos that show weight pulling. These dogs are physically trained to do a job and are prohibited to use steroids or other strength enhancing hormones, etc.. These dogs are athletes that are often under better care in diet, veterinary, and exercise, much more than the average household American dog that Americans pamper and are suffering from obesity like the rest of us Americans. These dogs may not do this in the wild, but then again Police dogs would not sniff out bombs or drugs or go after criminals. These dogs may not do many things in the wild that we have our average household pet dog do… after all dogs were domesticated originally to be our companions and in many ways to be our partners in jobs to do. St. Bernard's going to the rescue, Hunting dogs, Herding dogs, Earth dogs (yes the ferocious dachshund was trained to go into Badger tunnels to root out the Badger), many terriers were on farms, docks, ships to kill rats, mice and other vermin. I could go on and on, but dogs down through the centuries have been bred to protect, help, work for us humans… including weight pulling. So would you rather have a pit bull or other bull dog breeds go back to "bull baiting" which is what they once upon a time did for farmers and ranchers? Or maybe you'd rather have these bull dogs roam free and cause havoc… of course everyone talking about a no-kill animal shelter would be nice are often some of the same people that talk about killing all pit bulls… wow that's really humane.

    Yes… I do hope Haven Humane pulls itself out of this mess. And just because an organization allows other groups to meet their for their club meetings doesn't imply 100% support of that particular club. How many schools rent to Churches? How many other facilities rent to other clubs? Let's get real here!

    The bottom line is this was a case of sensationalism reporting and pardon the expression "beating a dead horse" when it comes to the OLD STORY of Ryan and Haven Humane and then dragging in more emotionalism, faulty reporting with the weight pulling.

    I agree with Einstein's Mom come on Doni… I usually like reading your stuff… but this is just simply BAD!

  34. Avatar Chere McMillan says:

    For those of you interested in the term "No Kill" please take the time to read about what must happen before any facility can become NK. The term “limited access” usually goes hand in hand with claiming to be NK. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has excellent information, as do several other reputable organizations. Becoming NK does not happen overnight. There are several shelters/humane societies in the United States that are making tremendous progress towards becoming NK. Words like "limited access" vs. "full access" are important. It requires intense public education, some restrictions (fees, licenses, permits) on dog breeders, eliminating irresponsible backyard breeders/puppy mills and affordable spay/neuter. Responsible professional breeders have no problem with being accountable for their actions. It is not something that you "try out" to see if it works. That leads to warehousing of animals. An animal being confined to a crate, run or cage long term is cruel. Being ill on top of it is appalling. Being confined, ill and not treated due to “lack of funds” is irresponsible. There is a big gap between human and humane.

  35. Avatar Miss Calculated says:

    I think it's crazy that an organization with such a tarnished reputation would even consider letting flyer's be made with their name on, this Haven mess isn't about the people, it's about the animals. The employees are the voices for the animals and when you mix politics into the animal business, it creates a poopin scoopin mess. Chere is right on with her comments. Someone keeps mentioning Sandy and what great work she does, and ever since she left it's gotten bad, sorry to say it was a lot more then Sandy that pushed Haven to hell in a Gucci handbag. The buck stops at Havens board and Yvonne Preston. Once she wormed her way into the day to day operations of the shelter, so did her entourage. Yvonne is like a disease. It's funny how every person in a power position is someone she knew or has ties to her Husband. Don't get me started on Cheryl. If Norm goes down for anything, they should share a cell. She had her hand in the cookie jar, she just hasn't been caught yet, but her time will come, all good things come to those who wait, and I'm waiting.

  36. Avatar Because I Know says:

    Miss Calculated – Couldn't have said it better myself!! I'm waiting along with you….What comes around goes around.

  37. Avatar Dennie says:

    I would not normally respond to a debate like this, however, dogs and dog sports have been a passion of mine since I was a child. First, I wish all the best to Haven Humane's new Director, Ray John. He has a difficult job ahead of him and I hope he educates himself throughly by many sources (training clubs, Breed clubs, and knowledgable individuals) I hope he does not fall prey to the practice of recounting and reporting dogs transferred from another shelter to pad the statistics, which is a common practice with shelters Statewide. I also think every dog adopted from a shelter or rescue group should be spayed or neutered before going to their new home

    That said, I want to address the idea of Weight Pulling being a cruel sport, and I can speak from experience as I have been a participate in such events. In the mid '70's I owned a Malamute named Kimiku and this dog would go crazy every time the harness was brought out. He didn't care if he was going to pull a wheeled cart, a sled, or dead weight, he just loved to pull. He would refuse to pull if the weight was too much. At a weight pulling event, when the dog stops, the cart is pushed from behind by people so the dog always "wins" . It's a game to the dog and they enjoy it. A dog that does not want to pull cannot be forced, regardless of how much you try to encourage them ( and yes, slapping the ground is encouragement). This sport is no different from flyball, agility, or Lure Coursing. The dog will not jump over the hurdles and bring the ball back if they don't like to jump or fetch and enjoy the "game". They will not jump, climb, or go through the tunnels if they don't like the "game" of agility. They will not chase a plastic bag on a string for 600-1000 yards if they don't like to run. They will quit, period.

    Of course, responsible training is reqiured in all the above, but you won't see dogs perform well, if at all, if they don't like what they are doing. In fact, it will be obvious if the dog doesn't like the event. Dogs are far more intelligent than the average person gives them credit for, and have a high self preservation instinct.

    The dogs I feel sorry for are owned by people who never even try to find out what their dog enjoys doing and think they are happiest to just eat and sleep. To me that is cruel and a terribly boring life for the dog.

    I also want to share my support to Kathy Dunn and EinsteinsMom for your excellent comments and attempt to educate.

  38. Avatar Rose says:


    Dogs have been working and pulling for thousands of years. I have cow dogs that love to work. My cousin has a police dog and that dog loves to go to work. There is nothing wrong with pulling games and/or contests. It is the irresponsible owners that cause the problems.

  39. Avatar Debbie says:

    I have to respond to this. People really need to open their eyes in this county. I have been fostering and rescueing dogs for years now. I have had multiple dogs and I never had all the sickness Haven claims they get and has to euthanize the dogs. If I did they went to the vet and was treated. I have had numerous negative dealings with Haven recently as well as some people I know. Just recently a girl had a dog on Craigs list trying to give it away. So I contacted her. She adopted the dog as a pup from Haven. The dog is 8 months old now and I ended up rescueing her. The girl was taking her back to Haven and they informed her they could not take the dog because she lives in Anderson now. I called Haven and spoke with someone and asked them WHY will you not take one of your own back. And I got this explanation, but was told if she gave them $50.00 they would take the dog then and euthanize the dog. I was so furious. This dog was nothing but a backyard dog. Haven adopts dogs out and really doesnt care where they go or what happens to them. I have rescued so many of these Haven dogs. I have more stories I can share which I plan on getting my facts together and exposing more about Haven. The board run the place not the administrator. And if Haven was gone then maybe COUNTY would finally get its new shelter built that it so badly needs not the NEW JAIL that we dont need. Haven chases off its good caring staff and volunteers. They are a KILL SHELTER. By the way Lexie is doing great. She is a wonderful loving dog who appreciates her new life. She is up for adoption if someone out there would open their home and heart to her 🙂

  40. Avatar JeffG says:

    "The final story in this series will feature John’s take on Haven, and his plans to help it heal."

    Doni — Is this still in the works? I am looking forward to hearing Dr. John's take…

  41. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    I have had many dealings with Haven over the years. People forget that it was a mess before Norm Ryan got hired. I think he stepped on a few toes trying to straighten things out and that is why he got shoved out the door. There may be more facts about the criminal case than have been reported, but using his business credit card for a personal use is not the crime of the century. Jerry Benito gets a lot of flack for being too political in his decisions to charge this person but not that one. (Ken Murray, the city hall sex gate workers)

    When we got our current dog from Haven, they truly made sure we were capable of caring for it. When we looked for another recently, I wanted to take all the dogs since nobody was caring for them, but couldn't.

  42. Avatar smarterthanu says:

    Debbie, I ws wondering how many dogs and cats you deal with in a day?