OTTUMWA — Three volunteers banned from ever returning to Heartland Humane Society say their dismissal was unsubstantiated.
Heartland Humane Society, Ottumwa's no-kill animal shelter, has been under fire by former volunteers who received a letter from the shelter's new manager saying they are banned from the premises.
Stan McHawes, who became manager in mid-May, sent a letter to volunteers Shirley Brown, Patty Conger-Woolslayer and Patsy Molesworth on July 9, telling them they were "no longer welcome on the premises of Heartland Humane Society or any events sponsored by or for Heartland Humane Society."
The lifelong ban means HHS will file a complaint of trespass with Ottumwa police, he wrote.
Brown, who has volunteered at the shelter for 17 years, said the threats to ban her and the two other volunteers began months ago, but this letter made it official.
"I wasn't an employee, I was a volunteer, so what's done I suppose can't be undone," she said. "Our focus is to change the board ... to save the shelter and change the board so it's functioning not as a social club but ethically. But we still want people to volunteer and support Heartland. It's not our purpose to keep them from operating."
McHawes said "the history of those three and the issues they had created in the past" led to his decision to officially ban them from HHS.
He said problems arose whenever a new director was hired.
In January, Lillian Frescoln was named the shelter's new director, though she left just six weeks later.
"We kept trying to convince her to stay, to talk to the board, but she was being micromanaged," Brown said.
McHawes said the shelter's director last fall, Suzanne Killian, "let those three run roughshod on the shelter, doing what they wanted to do as if it was their place."