Dismissed volunteers and critics have demand the return of animal socialization and promotion efforts eliminated under center Director Vernoica Fincher, who took over the leadership position in 2011. The actions by Fincher, they say, represent a move away from a "no kill" philosophy of the city's Animal Care & Adoption Center.
Councilman Bill Alexander said he wants his fellow council members to review the facility and listen to the arguments "very carefully."
"My hope is that our mayor will see the necessity and anybody who desires talking the lead on getting something like this going," Alexander said.
"I have faith that they're just as interested in wanting to get to the bottom of this as much as any of us do. "
Alexander, who was on the council when the city took control of the shelter from San Bernardino County several years ago, has also proposed that hearings possibly being held to look at the facility.
Fincher and her supporters have pointed to numbers that detail their sucesses. Most notably, the large numbers of cats and dogs that have been able to find new homes.
"Despite what the small group of individuals may want the public to believe, the Animal Center is thriving and has a great team of compassionate staff and volunteers that are tirelessly working together to save thousands of animals each year," Fincher said.
In 2012, 84 percent of the dogs and cats that were at the Animal Care & Services Center were placed in new homes with rescue and adoption partners or were reunited with their owners, she said.
But critics have voiced concern that the efforts aren't going far enough, and animals are being improperly categorized as unadoptable.
"All they have to do is say it had an issue with its temperament and they can automatically lie and say the reason is it had a bad temperament," said Kreider, a former animal shelter field services officer who claimed he was fired in February after speaking out against alleged misconduct at the shelter.
"I know that's not the case. I saw it multiple times. In fact, one of the dogs I picked up, they claimed to be aggressive, and that was the nicest dog I came across. I was shocked when they put that dog down. "
Kreider is allied with an advocacy group called Together Helping Animals Thrive, or THAT Group, and they don't mince words when describing what is going on within the walls of the facility at 11780 Arrow Route.
Susan Keithly, a shelter volunteer who was dismissed in November, said animals' lives are being lost because of policy changes. Keithly demands that the shelter reinstate programs and bring back volunteers.
"Will the council do anything to help," Keithly said at a recent council meeting. "We don't want any recognition. We're still willing to try to work with Veronica, despite everything she's done. "
The center is an open-admission shelter as it takes in all stray, abandoned or surrendered animals in the city.
Fincher has said all options are exhausted before an animal is euthanized, and the center engages in outreach to rescue organizations, support shelters and the public. Often times, decisions to euthanize an animal are based on the dog or cat's ability to adjust to kennel life, adoptability and safety for prospective adopters.
Mayor Pro Tem Sam Spagnolo defended the center, saying the animal center has passed two evaluations by the state and the county in response to allegations of misconduct in recent months.
"I think their concerns have been addressed at the county and the state, and both came in on surprise inspections," Spagnolo said. "They weren't scheduled and the center was given a clean bill of health. I don't see a need to go over that again. "
Assistant City Manager Lori Sassoon also said animal center staffers are highly qualified, trained experts who bring specific expertise in how to evaluate animal behavior.
"Those are decisions that are matters of professional judgement that need to be made, and they're made following some careful thought," Sassoon said of the decision to euthanize and animal. "It's not something that's done lightly. "