The Charlottesville area’s animal shelter has dismissed its second volunteer in one month amid an ongoing investigation into the treatment of animals and workers.
Sarah Lloyd, who worked as an employee and later as a volunteer at the Charlottesville Albemarle Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told The Daily Progress last month at a protest outside the local SPCA that she was worried the organization would retaliate against her.
She has since been fired as a volunteer and accused of recording staff without their permission and disclosing private donor information – charges she denies.
Lloyd, a former volunteer manager, was a volunteer dog walker at the time she received her dismissal letter from Richmond-based attorney Buckley Warden last Friday.
In the letter, Warden said his firm, Thompson McMullan, had been retained by the SPCA.
Warden referred a request for comment to Jenn Corbey, president of the local SPCA’s board of directors.
Corbey did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Progress.
Lloyd said her dismissal came as a surprise. She said she was dismissed Friday afternoon and had walked dogs less than 24 hours before she was fired.
“There was no warning,” Lloyd told The Daily Progress.
Lloyd previously spoke to The Daily Progress in February at a protest calling for an investigation into the local SPCA.
“This is the first time I’ve come out,” Lloyd said in February. “I am still afraid of retaliation.”
Warden said that Lloyd was dismissed because the SPCA “received multiple complaints from staff members that [Lloyd was] recording them while working without their consent.”
Lloyd denied the allegation.
“I don’t know who made up all this stuff. None of it is true,” Lloyd said.
Warden also alleged that Lloyd had violated the shelter’s policy by “disclosing donor information and other proprietary internal data.”
Lloyd said it wouldn’t have been possible for her to have access to that information.
“I never took anything. I never knew of anything on the inside because I was a volunteer manager,” Lloyd said.Donors’ names and the range of money they contributed is publicly available on the local SPCA’s website in the organization’s annual reports.
Lloyd resigned as a volunteer manager in fall 2022, she said, because her supervisors had made her life “miserable.”
“They were making me feel like I wasn’t doing a good enough job ever. And I worked,” Lloyd said. “I came in every single day at 8 a.m.”
Lloyd said she remained a volunteer at the SPCA because she felt she had an obligation to the animals. She said she loved the shelter.
“Why would I go there every day if I didn’t love the shelter?” Lloyd said. “It doesn’t make any sense that I would want anything negative to happen to the shelter.”
The Charlottesville-area SPCA has been under fire since the start of the year, when current and former employees and volunteers launched a campaign calling for the organization’s leadership to step down amid allegations of animal mistreatment and general mismanagement.
The group has said that misconduct and mismanagement at the shelter has translated into animal neglect bordering on abuse. The shelter, the group says, is overcapacity and understaffed, with animals often kept in unsafe living conditions and their carers overworked in order to keep adoption rates high and contributions rolling in.
A letter addressed to the SPCA board earlier this year, which has since garnered more than 100 signatures, includes photos of dogs in pens full of urine and feces, animals living in crates the group says are stored in the shelter’s basement and facilities that appear to be unclean, unkept and dangerous to the animals living there.
The group has specifically targeted the shelter’s CEO Angie Gunter and
called for her resignation or dismissal
The SPCA has hired international law firm McGuireWoods to look into those allegations. The shelter’s board of directors said in a Feb. 8 statement that the investigation would take 90 days to complete.
In the meantime, there the Virginia Department of Agriculture has completed an inspection of the facility’s and found several documents at the shelter were missing information required by state law.