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GETTING ANSWERS: Executive director no longer employed at Lemhi Co. Humane Society

SALMON, Idaho (KIFI) - Former workers at the Lemhi County Humane Society and the community of Salmon together are reporting several issues that have arisen in the past year. Local News 8 decided to get answers and dig more into the situation.

We started the investigation Wednesday, Feb. 21. Two members of the Salmon community reached out to Local News 8 concerned with the actions of Tony Magro, the Lemhi County Humane Society's executive director. Penny McCathron of North Fork told us she was upset by how an autistic woman was fired from the shelter. She said she wasn't given enough training and was treated poorly.

Laura Hollingshead also contacted Local News 8. She said she saw more problems stemming from the executive director himself. She noticed employees disappearing from the shelter. She also noticed some odd behavior from the director outside of the workplace by leaving his dogs off their leash. The City of Salmon has a law saying you must have your pets on a leash within city limits. She said his pets reportedly killed chickens and cats.

We contacted another concerned citizen and a former employee, Bryan Williams. He said he wants transparency about the funds and donations going into the humane society.

"It seems as though, as of late, people have become unaware their website has changed. You're unable to contact board members or anyone on the executive committee with questions and concerns," he said.

We spoke with Jessie Nguyen, a former employee who worked at the shelter for four years. She said she was known for her special love of animals and was promoted to a manager in 2023. She said things turned south and some interactions with the executive director made her feel uncomfortable.

"She wanted me to put a slip lead through a chain link fence, put it around the dog's head, and pull on it. So to match the dog's head against the fence, to try to give him a vaccine like that. And of course, I obliged because he was my boss. And I don't want to lose my job," Nguyen said.

Eventually, it was too much for her and she tried to quit on Jan. 18, only to be fired the next day. Nguyen said she is still mentally recovering and trying to find another job.

At the Salmon City Council meeting on Feb. 21, 9 people voiced their concerns about the Lemhi County Animal Shelter. "He could be very inappropriate with the staff. He'd come here in a bad mood, would yell at us, throw things in the office," testified a former employee.

One of the current employees at the meeting said operations ran a lot smoother a year ago, and they are in a worse position now with several people either quitting or getting fired. Even through all of this, he still has hope for the future.

"Our job is to take care of these animals and to make sure they find it, that we find them a good and proper home. That way, they have a great long and happy life, both for an owner safe and free and safe. And that's why I joined the animal shelter, because I wanted to feel like I was making a difference in this community for once," testified the employee.

We reached out to Louise Brannon, a board member with the Lemhi County Humane Society. She told us there were "personnel issues" within the shelter and the board held a meeting recently to address the concerns, but would not comment further.

We also reached out to Tony Mangro. He said he would not comment on any of the allegations made against him.

"The Humane Society continues to work hard to help dogs and cats find forever homes daily," Mangro said in a written comment. "Not only have we sheltered more dogs year-over-year, but our pet's length of stay prior to adoption has decreased. We have just recently completed construction of the Ken Hill Kitten Cabin, which provides much-needed space to house kittens separately from adult cats, as well as provides a kitten nursery with critical care equipment. Lastly, our foster program for dogs and cats, especially young kittens, continues to grow thanks to our community members. We will continue to work to grow our program and address the needs of the community, as well as work with high-risk shelters in efforts to place animals in loving homes. In the past month, we have united 34 pets to their forever homes, including two longtime stays who remained unadopted at the shelter for almost an entire calendar year,” he wrote.

In 2023, the shelter received 363 animals last year and out of those, 242 were able to find new homes. The humane society also fielded only 12 cruelty cases.

Brannon said one of the best perks of the shelter is being a no-kill shelter. They only euthanized two cats last year because they fell seriously ill. The shelter has the space to carry plenty of animals and unlike other shelters at this time, they haven't had an overcrowding problem. This allows them to take their time in finding owners for their animals. Brannon also said they utilize a program called 'Pets Established' that lets the humane society connect their pets to owners all around the country.

"We have flown animals to Maine. We have flown animals to California. And if you're a no-kill shelter, you can do that because you have the time. You can advertise. You can interview people. Yeah, you aren't constrained by a number of animals," Brannon said.

The community citizens cannot deny the work of the humane society either. Each of the citizens we spoke with said they don't want their call for change to completely harm or disband the humane society. They said they can see the difference the shelter makes across central Idaho.

"The shelter was organized back in the 1970s, and it is a big asset to the community. I mean, people adopt dogs. Every dog that I've ever had, my entire 66 years of my life has been a rescue or an adoption from an animal shelter," Hollingshead said.

On Thursday, Feb. 29, Brannon confirmed Mangro no longer works for the organization.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Evan Thomason

Evan is the weekend meteorologist and reporter.


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