What's the one belief you won't compromise on?
I'm facing a personal ethical challenge and it's making me re-evaluate who I am and what I believe in. I'm going to be self-indulgent here and put it all into words. I don't expect any magical relief will come from putting it out here...but just maybe...I don't know...
I became a member of the Board of Directors of my local Animal Protective League back in February. The organization is experiencing some growing pains and I've been trying to help get them back on course (read = they're transitioning from "the way we've always done things" to "the right way.") . They haven't been following their corporate directives except in the most generalized ways (read = they still have an animal shelter, but all established business practices have ceased). Procedural things have just fallen by the wayside and nobody has bothered to address the resulting substantive deficiencies for quite some time. For example, they are a membership organization and they're supposed to have a list of members in a membership book. Simple, right? They didn't. In fact, they couldn't even say WHO their members were. Even worse, they didn't have a policy and procedures manual for the employees. Everyone just sort of bumbled along however they were used to or however they felt like. It is a mess. And I say that both personally and professionally.
I joined the organization knowing that while they have aspirations to prevent the need to euthanize animals, they have enacted policy that limits the shelter population. In the rescue community we call it "euthanizing for space." I hate it, but I understand the options can, at times, be to either euthanize unwanted animals or house them indefinitely and stop taking in any other animals in need. I pledged to work with rescues as much as humanly possible to make sure that "my" shelter doesn't have to euthanize for space. I guess you could say this was my first ethical compromise.
Recently, it has come to my attention that our shelter practices the abortion of canine pregnancies (they may also do felines, but I do not have any information on that at this time). This thought makes me sick to my stomach. I asked about it and was told that "everyone does it," and that other shelters accepted this practice (allegedly) as an effort to address the overwhelming generalized problem of pet overpopulation. Another symptom of the larger problems within this organization...there is no formal policy regarding this abortion/pregnant-spay practice. I'm not sure there was ever even a discussion. The Board President tells me this was "sort of adopted as policy" by herself, the then-Shelter Director, and the Animal Welfare Director. I asked how the decisions are made regarding selection of animals for this "procedure" and I asked if this practice was ever disclosed to membership. I received NO response. The silence concerns me. A lot.
I emailed the Board President again and told her I'm going to formally request that this procedure cease unless/until the Board adopts a formal policy allowing it. As you can imagine (probably because she was involved in the initial formation of this "sort of policy"), I didn't get a real positive response. I told her that I believe if this is a policy the organization wants to have, then it should be discussed and adopted out in the open...particularly since we are a member organization and we MUST be open with our members. I told her I plan to introduce it as new business at our next Board meeting
I have thought about this for weeks now and have decided that if they do adopt this policy, I will immediately resign. This is the line I will not cross. This is not something I can be a party to. I haven't told anyone this because I don't want it to seem like a threat from someone who is too self-important. I just want/need to do what is necessary for my own peace of mind.
I know where this conversation will lead because that's where it has gone in my head over the past few weeks. The A-word. The big debate. My brain is tired from turning it all over...inside out and upside down.
And underneath all the "big" issues this has brought up for me, I'm just really really sad that I may have to leave this organization that I so badly want to help. All I would have to do is make another compromise to stay. Unfortunately, I think it would end up costing me more than I can imagine and I just can't do it.
I hope that any and all comments to this post will be respectful. I'm not talking to the people I know (I know you will behave yourselves)...I'm talking directly to anonymous people who may choose to post drive-by comments. Rude or disrespectful comments will be deleted.