County needs voice on Humane Society board

THE SHEBOYGAN COUNTY HUMANE Society has found itself in the news a lot recently – and not all good news.

The society became embroiled in controversy when former Director Eileen Ribbens was charged with obtaining a prescription drug by fraud and delivery of prescription drugs. Last month in Sheboygan County Circuit Court she pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of obtaining, paid a $200 fine, and entered a deferred prosecution agreement on the felony delivery charge, which can be dismissed in two years.

As part of her plea agreement with District Attorney Joe DeCecco, Ribbens agreed to leave her position with the society and have no future contact with the group or any of its employees

Dr. Frederick Lord, the Humane Society veterinarian who blew the whistle on Ribbens, claiming she ordered drugs including Tramadol using his veterinary license, was later terminated by the society.

Lord, and his supporters, claim he was let go in retaliation for his charges against Ribbens. Society officials claim the two are unrelated and that the 70-year-old Lord was dismissed due to his poor job performance. To bolster that contention, the society’s board of directors has hired an outside consultant to audit the shelter’s veterinary records and plans to report Lord to the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, which is in charge of veterinary licensing.

In the midst of the swirling controversy, a city of Sheboygan alderman asked city officials to investigate the society’s operations since dog license fees paid by city residents help support the society and its animal shelter.

It turns out the city of Sheboygan, like every other city, town and village in the county, turns their dog and cat license fees over to the county, which in turn sends them to the humane society.

That brought county officials into the picture and now the County Board’s Finance Committee is looking into operations at the shelter.

It’s right that they should do so.

In the end, all of the recent uproar should settle down and the Humane Society and shelter should be able to continue to do the fine work they have done in the past.

But it might help to provide citizens of the county – who provide roughly 10 percent of the Humane Society’s annual budget through their license fees – with a seat on the society’s board of directors, through the County Board.

The Sheboygan County Humane Society’s board of directors includes 10 members. It would only be right that one of those seats – or an additional seat, if that would work better – be appointed by the County Board and report to the board on operations at the shelter.

With public money involved, a public voice is needed. And perhaps that might prevent such tempests at the animal shelter from occurring again.

At issue:
New state budget
Bottom line:
Less divisive this time

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