Humane Society director resigns

June 06, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

Maria Procopio has resigned as executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, effective June 13.

In April 2001, Procopio filled the vacancy left by Shelly Moore's resignation in February 2001.

Procopio said she always planned to stay in the job for only two to four years.

"It has been over two years. It is time to move on. The animal shelter industry has a real high burnout rate," she said.

Procopio, 46, said she and her husband plan to move to the Savannah, Ga., area. She does not have a new job lined up but hopes to work for an animal shelter group in that area, but not in management, she said.


A search committee has been formed to find a new executive director, Humane Society Board President Dana Moylan said. The job is being advertised nationally, she said.

Procopio said the high point of her time here was leading the staff as they moved into a larger shelter facility and developed new procedures for it.

Moylan said Procopio was instrumental in the transition into the new building.

Moylan said Procopio has done great work with fund-raising and getting grant money, Moylan said.

One of the more difficult parts of her job was that the shelter had to euthanize some animals, which is hard on everyone at the shelter, Procopio said.

The two hardest parts of her job were taking in abused animals and euthanizing healthy animals, Procopio said.

"People say, 'The animal shelter has to stop killing animals,'" she said. But, she said, the problem is caused by a community that does not spay and neuter its animals and more work needs to be done in that area.

The Humane Society has to euthanize some animals due to space constraints, she said.

Procopio was the subject of controversy while in the job.

In September, the Washington County Animal Control Authority fined her $25 after a neighbor complained that her dogs were barking. Procopio said the complaint stemmed from a disgruntled employee.

In October, the authority ruled against Procopio's allegations that Second Chance Rescue of Inwood, W.Va., was mistreating dogs displayed for adoption at a Hagerstown pet store.

After that, the Washington County Commissioners urged her to respond to complaints raised by citizens and animal welfare groups.

In January, the commissioners held a public hearing to air some of those concerns, which included the need for a more aggressive spay and neuter program.

From July 1 through the first week of October last year, the Humane Society killed 579 cats and 128 dogs, which was more than twice the number of animals the organization adopted out in the same period, according to Humane Society documents.

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