Archive for Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dori Villalon named executive director of Lawrence Humane Society

June 29, 2011, 11:35 a.m. Updated June 29, 2011, 11:50 a.m.


Dori Villalon, the new executive director for Lawrence Humane Society, is pictured with one of her dogs, Miss Millie, a 10-year-old Chihuahua.

Dori Villalon, the new executive director for Lawrence Humane Society, is pictured with one of her dogs, Miss Millie, a 10-year-old Chihuahua.

The Lawrence Humane Society has named Dori Villalon as its executive director following a nationwide search.

Villalon, 46, has been hired for a six-month period, after which the society’s board of directors could make her a long-term offer, according to a news release.

She has directed animal shelters in San Francisco, Cleveland and Colorado, and most recently was vice president of animal protection for the American Humane Association. Villalon has a bachelor’s degree in animal welfare management from Sonoma State University in California.

“We are excited to welcome Dori to the Lawrence Humane Society and the community,” said Emily Peterson, the board’s president. “She brings the leadership experience, animal welfare expertise and energy we need to continue moving the organization forward.”

Former Lawrence City Manager Mike Wildgen has been interim director since Midge Grinstead resigned in March in the wake of a controversy over employees’ overtime pay.

Villalon visited Lawrence two weeks ago to meet shelter staff and volunteers. During a reception at The Oread, some volunteers questioned the society’s transparency and euthanasia policy. Villalon said she tries to “exhaust every possible resource before euthanizing an animal.”

The shelter, 1805 E. 19th St., which takes in about 7,500 animals each year, is waiving all adoption fees for cats in an effort to relieve overcrowding.

“In order to continue and expand our essential animal care and rescue services, we need to grow community support and contributions,” Peterson said. “Dori has agreed to jump in to help us meet the goals vital to our success.”

The shelter takes in almost $300,000 a year in funding from the city and Douglas County. In 2007, nearly $11,000 of that was spent to put down animals, according to tax records. Tax forms in subsequent years do not provide a more recent figure.

Shelter officials have declined to say exactly how many animals are being euthanized, but they say animals are only put down for health or temperament reasons. Wildgen said the number in recent months was “dozens, not hundreds.”

On Wednesday, Villalon met with staff at the shelter again. She said she was already preparing for on an upcoming budget meeting with county officials.

She’s also settling into town with her two dogs, Miss Millie, 10, a “fat Chihuahua,” and Addison, an almost-2-year-old Anatolian shepherd mix; and two cats, Ernie, 15, a domestic shorthair, and Macy, 7, a three-legged tabby. Villalon said she adopted all four from shelters.

Shelter officials did not say what her compensation will be. Grinstead’s salary was $50,000.


MISTERTibbs 6 years, 11 months ago

Google her name and read up about her, that should provide you with an answer.

missmagoo 6 years, 11 months ago

It's almost laughable what the pet world thinks is unethical. Please, if the worst thing this woman ever did was "bought" a dog off Craigslist (which pets are supposed to be free) then fine by me. The rest of the article I read was all eh, whatever. She was a big wig at one time and her $50,000 (maybe) salary in Lawrence is a far cry from the 150K she used to make. Perhaps the info on the internet could also be why she's on a probationary period. Who knows, she seems over-qualified so let's give her a chance. She looks like way more of a people person than Midge ever was.

nytemayr 6 years, 11 months ago

She seems exrtremely well qualified. Give her a shot!

gatekeeper 6 years, 11 months ago

"A petition on calls Villalon's treatment of SPCA staff "inhuman" and cites a disrespect toward volunteers and 'disregard' of 'the welfare of animals' and reasons for dismissal. The SPCA's decision to spend money on a new animal hospital that now charges higher fees, in conjunction with layoffs and several policy changes, has the shelter in a shakier public relations situation than it has experienced in quite a while. "

All the board at the shelter was looking for was someone to put on a great fake face for the public and do the bidding of Hack. The shelter is killing many more animals than it used to and the real reason Midge was forced to leave was because she stood up to the board. Hack only wants a "hack" to do her bidding. The welfare of the animals is not the #1 priority there now. I still encourage people to help the shelter and adopt from there, but know the truth and why Midge was forced out. When donating money, put it in writing that it can only be used for the care of the animals, otherwise Hack and the board will use it for what they want (like legal fees making sure they cover their b*tts).

If they really cared about the employees like they claim, then they wouldn't have hired someone who treated employees at a previous job with disrespect and was run off because of it. Why would she be leaving great jobs in CA to come to a little shelter in KS? To go from being the Vice President of Animal Protection at American Humane Association to here is quite a step down.

TheYetiSpeaks 6 years, 11 months ago

"To go from being the Vice President of Animal Protection at American Humane Association to here is quite a step down."

Meanwhile, Midge is now the Director of Kansas Affairs for the Humane Society of the United States.....Do the math, Lawrence. It didn't work out too good for you. Oh well.

geoismeo 6 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Acey 6 years, 11 months ago

What an awful lie saying that Midge "hated people". I was on the board when Midge was hired, and I couldn't believe that her leaving had a thing to do with "poor people skills," as you put it. She was a hard-worker, dedicated to animals of all kinds, was well respected throughout the State. And my husband and I liked her a lot.

I do wish that those who did this search had consulted some of us veterans who had hired (and fired) Lawrence Humane Society managers before. As I had said in an earlier posting, only ONE manager in the entire existence of the LHS had CHOSEN to leave. All the rest (and I knew them all) were eventually fired. I tell you, managing a shelter is a soul-destroying job.

There are dozens of people in Lawrence who brought this current iteration of the Lawrence Humane Society into being. We could have added some wisdom.

I was one of those (yes, I see you did your Googling, as I did) who was not pleased by what I found. What a strange imployment history Ms Villalon has "enjoyed!" I wish all the best to those working hard to do what is right for the animals, and for the Lawrence Humane Society!

Marianne Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

@missmagoo: There's nothing wrong with getting an animal from Craig's List, as long as animal & adopter are a good fit. However, there are more serious concerns about Ms. Villalon: See the comments on for more info.

The board is wise to have a six-month probationary period.

geoismeo 6 years, 11 months ago

I stand by my now deleted comment. There was no violation of usage agreement.

hedshrinker 6 years, 11 months ago

I can't believe Midge was only paid 50K a year. She was incredibly dedicated, traveled all over hells half acre to rescue animals from Katrina and Greensburg among others, stood down crazy druggies using exotic animals to scare civilians off their rural properties, same for cock fighting and dog fighting operations, won massive new support for expansion of the physical facility as well as scope of practice of the shelter; in other words, she was a ballsy, vocal animal advocate and apparently ran across political opposition b/c she was outspoken and wouldn't compromise on animal welfare. Midge elevated the profile of the Shelter exponentially in a positive direction....It is a real dilemma for me to continue $ support even tho I know the animals need food and medical care, etc. no matter who is at the helm; I continue to be furious at the Board for its murky practices in general and the shabby way they treated the best director the Shelter has ever had....this new person sounds really sketchy and I hope that the community will press the Board to hold her feet to the fire during her probationary period before we get in too deep.

Achance 6 years, 8 months ago

Something needs to be done!!! Over 300 animals have been distroyed there over the last couple weeks because the new director wont treat sick animals. In one day all animals that were sick or aggressive were killed. This is not a joke..... I will not support them any longer and thanks for those who have been fired for standing up to the new director even though you lost your job you tried to save lives...........

WID 6 years, 11 months ago

i saw the board of directors listed on their website but sue hack isn't one of them. why is her name being brought into this? not trying to defend her, just trying to figure that out.

dogsrallright 6 years, 11 months ago

Was Ms. Villalon asked why she was fired from Sonoma County shelter?

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