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Hopkinton Selectboard adds conditions to Greyhound Friends kennel license

Blog about Greyhound Friends

Learn more about the issues that animal rescue law enforcement and state agencies uncovered about the greyhound adoption group Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Greyhound Friends is closed but is trying to obtain a new kennel license, despite recent reports that they neglected sick and injured dogs.

Hopkinton Selectboard adds conditions to Greyhound Friends kennel license

Stephen Bassignani

A citizen’s petition was filed in August 2019 to request that the Hopkinton Selectboard hold a public hearing to consider revocation of the Greyhound Friends kennel license. During the September 10, 2019 hearing, resident petitioners stated, “We recognize that due to the way the town bylaws are written, the town clerk is required to issue a license if a facility passes a physical inspection. However, it seems clear from Greyhound Friends license application letter of June 15, 2019 that they made several misstatements.”

1) The letter states that "Greyhound Friends has entirely changed leadership since 2017." However, records from the Secretary of State and additional sources show that the current kennel manager was a board member between at least 2016-2017 and is a longtime employee. As you can see in the attached state records, as early as 2015, the current kennel manager was notified by animal welfare law enforcement and numerous other animal welfare professionals of many of the troubling animal care problems at the kennel.

2) The letter states that "all dogs but two were adopted upon closure of the kennel". Yet as the attached records show, Greyhound Friends kept dogs in boarding facilities until at least five months after the kennel license was last suspended, despite the fact that numerous animal rescue groups had offered to place the dogs. We believe this speaks to the lack of judgement both that the organization left these dogs in cages unnecessarily - and that they misled the town about this in their kennel license application letter.

In addition, a MetroWest Daily News article revealed that at least one of these dogs kept in boarding was sick and was adopted out from a boarding facility approximately four months after the license suspension. MDAR records show that Greyhound Friends was aware of his illness. As you may recall, the adopter of the dog drove two hours down from New Hampshire last year to testify. The person who signed off on the adoption was the current kennel manager.

Due to the misstatements and misrepresentation in the kennel license application letter - in addition to the decades of animal welfare violations and poor decision-making by this organization - we feel the kennel license should be revoked.

If you are not going to revoke the license, we believe that Greyhound Friends should make a commitment not to allow those people to still be involved. We believe if they ever are going to get out from under the shadow of animal neglect, they need to get rid of the people who stood silently by while this happened.”

Greyhound Friends President Caryn-Amy Rose responded, "I joined the Greyhound Friends Board of Directors eight months after the kennel was closed and the founder's employment was severed. A year after that I became Board President.

Those of us who joined the organization after its closing gradually realized that while good was being done for many dogs through the shelter, other dogs’ needs went unmet in the past. This is a sad fact.

We are deeply sorry about the failures of Greyhound Friends past. The best of intentions are not good enough. We have put in place systems and safeguards and above all professional collaboration and openness to guard against human error and blind spots in the future.

We spent over a year working with MDAR Division of Animal Health on comprehensive new procedures, protocols, and training to ensure good medical care, reliable documentation, enrichment, and movement of dogs through the shelter... Multiple sets of eyes will be on the treatment and enrichment received by every dog, every week, including their length of stay and other metrics.

Even more important than our compliance today is the ongoing commitment to work with other professional groups to continue evolving. We encourage visits and review by professional authorities at any time."

At the end of a public comment period, the Hopkinton Selectboard posed numerous questions to Greyhound Friends Board President and to Kennel Manager Theresa Shepard. Ms. Rose clarified that her volunteer work previously was at Meet and Greets in her neighborhood, not at the kennel. She visited the kennel at times and stated, “I never saw anything. I do apologize for not hearing people who told stories and dismissed that because I had never seen it.”

Selectmen Brian Herr asked Ms. Shepard what she observed at Greyhound Friends during her years there. "I saw the kennel declining in 2015 and people trying to present changes. …There were too many dogs and not enough staff. Things were declining."

When asked what she attributed those declines to, Ms. Shepard said “I don't know...It was mismanagement.”

Mr. Herr asked how she would prevent those problems to be repeated.

Ms. Shepard stated that the kennel is bringing dogs to a manageable level, the facility in good condition, and has oversight by the board of directors. “I’m not the founder, I’m an employee,” she added.

After a public comment period, the Board of Selectmen deliberated.

Selectchair Brendan Tedstone stated that "I don't want Louise Coleman or other people who swept things under the rug to show up on your board..."

The Board of Selectmen questioned the kennel leadership about Former Executive Director Coleman’s involvement. The Greyhound Friends attorney noted that he had communicated to Coleman that she is not to be involved, and she knows that the next step is court. "She's not even supposed to come on the property,” added that they were not opposed to a restraining order.

Selectmen Herr said "what frustrates me the most is we still have people involved who didn't report up. Going forward that is absolutely what I would expect. That's the culture of Hopkinton and we expect that..Every role is important for reporting abuse or anything they see that is wrong."

The Selectmen warned Greyhound Friends leadership that they would under extremely close monitoring, with the Chairman stating “your name is not gold in the dog loving community and it’s up to you to change that. And it’s up to us as a town to monitor it…This is very serious. I appreciate the work that you’ve done..”

"If the permit is to stay open and we allow you to stay open, if you are here before us on a violation[in the future] that is substantiated by anyone with merit, I will push to shut it down."

After much discussion, the Board of Selectmen voted to add two conditions to the license:

  • Greyhound Friends is to keep former Executive Director Louise Coleman off the property, including taking legal action if necessary to do so

  • Former Greyhound Friends Board Members are not eligible to return to the Board without approval of the Hopkinton Board of Selectmen and a public hearing

Greyhound Friends Board President and the kennel’s attorney agreed to these terms.