BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – In a video posted to Facebook, Thursday morning, Greater Birmingham Humane Society CEO Allison Black Cornelius called allegations made against the organization “shaming attacks and lies”.
The allegations surfaced in a series of blog posts from the grassroots group, No Kill Movement. Mike Fry, a member of the group, said that another member in the Alabama area started looking at GBHS’s live release reports for 2016 and year to date for 2017.
“It’s very rare that we see the rates of killing that are documented in the GBHS’s own reports, and it’s important to note that data is coming right out of their own reports,” Fry explained. However it didn’t stop there for No Kill Movement. Fry said that their group found GBHS leadership’s statements about those statistics have been, “very misleading.”
Fry said that No Kill Movement posted a blog about–what they considered to be–those discrepancies in the numbers. “Frankly, in my 20 years of working in the animal sheltering field, I’ve never experienced what happened next,” he said.
Fry claims that a number of complaints started coming in from people who identified themselves as former volunteers, employees, and fosters for GBHS through e-mail, phone calls, and social media. Fry told CBS 42 that they recorded interviews with several of the complainants to help corroborate the stories. Even more allegations came out of those interviews that were featured in blogs.
“It’s not sort of untrue,” said Cornelius in the Facebook video, “it’s not, oh you misunderstood me or maybe they took something out of context. It never happened. Ever.”
GBHS board member Art Edge echoed those sentiments in a phone interview with CBS 42, calling the allegations “without any foundation of fact”.
In the video, Cornelius addressed a number of accusations made in the blog posts, including claims that she used GBHS assets for personal use or personal gain; that she ordered to have a number of kittens featured in a social media video be euthanized; that she categorized expenses unethically; and under-reported the number of animals that are euthanized versus the number that are adopted. Cornelius was adamant that the claims aren’t true. “They’ve damaged my reputation,” she said. “They’ve damaged GBHS, and we’ll have to let the chips fall where they may.”
In the video, Cornelius stated that GBHS will not be bullied, and that the bloggers “crossed a line when you start accusing people of crimes.” She went on to say that the organization plans to utilize the judicial system to go after “these individuals.”
Fry said that he’s already seen some evidence of that after he received a cease and desist letter.
“You know, I have a first amendment right to speak out,” he said. “I’ve been very careful, every step of the way to document what I’ve done and document what people have told me. We’ve given GBHS more than ample opportunity to provide their input into the things that we’re writing…to answer the questions and issues that have been put forward.”
Fry said that he has reached out to Cornelius multiple times, but other than a couple of brief e-mails, he claims that he has been ignored. He also said that he and other ‘whistle blowers’ considered the cease and desist letters to be a form of bullying–by trying to scare people from speaking out.
Meanwhile, Edge said that the board has undertaken an investigation into the origin of the allegations. “If you look at the No Kill Movement website, it’s anonymous,” he said. “There are no names listed. There are no phone numbers listed, no addresses. We’re trying to find out who’s behind it, and then once we’ve determined that, perhaps we’ll be able to determine what their motivation is.”
Edge said that the investigation should be completed by Monday. Watch the full video response from the GBHS Facebook Page below.