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    These photographs are just a few I have taken over the last ten years at The Albany Bulb, also known as the Landfill, the Waterfront and just The Bulb. It is a place I feel passionate about. That much is obvious. There are many of us who believe that this piece of the much hyped Eastshore State Park should have been left untouched and unmanaged - because it is a unique example of what happens when a place naturally and organically self regulates. But the dogma of 'preservation' and 'conservation areas' 'resource protection', 'habitats' and 'liability' overrules all individual identity. They cannot leave anything untouched, un-designed. It is as if if they (the park planners) didn't make it, it has no value. Rules, guidelines, regulations, interpretive signage, fences, safety, sanctioned art - it leaves nothing to the imagination. That is what the landfill meant to us - a place of unlimited imagination.
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October 06, 2009


Carrie Harrington

Hi Jill

As you know, in addition to our role as a non-profit animal shelter, MHS, as designated by the County of Marin, is responsible for the county’s animal services. When complaints about the health and safety of animals are made, as was the situation with Milo, we are legally obligated to respond. In this case, numerous serious concerns about the Milo facility in San Rafael were brought to our attention.

Prompted by these complaints, MHS Animal Services conducted an inspection of Milo’s facility on the morning of Thursday, October 1. We inspected the facility before a morning cleaning had been completed, but the conditions we found were the result of weeks, if not months, of inadequate cleaning and sanitation. MHS Animal Services Officers discovered numerous other problems related to improper housing of animals, an inappropriately high number of animals housed, insufficient staffing, expired medications, illegal possession of controlled substances, procedural issues, and lack of veterinary treatment for sick animals – many of whom had infectious diseases. One dog found to be in need of urgent medical care was immediately transported by MHS to an emergency veterinary facility.

Top among our concerns was Milo’s continued transferring of animals in and adoption of animals out of their facility despite not having isolated those with contagious diseases and infections like ringworm, mange, and giardia. To continue this flow of animals without proper isolation protocols in place seriously compromised the health of animals and the people they came in contact with.

Given the magnitude of problems, MHS conducted a follow-up inspection on Friday morning (October 2) that focused on health issues. It was during Friday’s inspection that Milo’s director, in an effort to help relieve the high volume of animals at the facility, surrendered 18 animals to the Marin Humane Society. A number of these animals are being treated by MHS for various medical conditions, including ringworm. All of the animals surrendered by Milo are being given a thorough medical and behavior evaluation, and will then be placed for adoption.

What is Milo’s current status in Marin?
Milo’s temporary use permit issued by the City of San Rafael expired many months ago. Further, MHS advised Milo that they could not continue operations in Marin until further notice.
MHS has offered to assist Milo in their efforts to comply with these requirements. We have offered to accept additional animals currently in their custody, regardless of medical needs, to help facilitate achieving conditions that meet the health and safety needs of animals in their care.

What is the status of the Milo sanctuary in Mendocino?
In July, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) invited Captain Cindy Machado, who heads our Animal Services Department, to participate in a consultative capacity in an HSUS-led inspection of this sanctuary. Captain Machado was asked to do this because of her extensive experience in such inspections. The evaluation was prompted by concerns received by several sanctuary staff and volunteers who claimed that animals were being kept in inadequate housing with exposure to inclement weather and predatory animals, and were not receiving proper care and socialization. The HSUS inspection validated numerous problems with Milo’s sanctuary related to the care, treatment and housing of animals. Both HSUS and MHS remain concerned about Milo’s operations at the Willits sanctuary. Milo has told representatives of MHS that it has requested a full evaluation of its Willits sanctuary to assist them in identifying deficiencies at this location.

Is MHS reacting to competition in Marin?
There is no such thing as competition when it comes to saving animals’ lives. In fact, MHS works with and values the wonderful contributions of numerous rescue organizations. As many of you know, we have actively partnered with other shelters and rescue groups for many years through our Pet Partnership Program, assisting overcrowded shelters with spay/neuter education, provision of consultative support, etc.

When Milo came to Marin from its former East Bay location a little over a year ago, MHS did not oppose the move or view Milo’s presence as a threat. There is more than enough room for both MHS and Milo in Marin County. But given our enforcement responsibilities we need to be sure that Milo complies with proper health and safety requirements and we will not shirk those responsibilities.

Did MHS report this situation to the media?
No. MHS was contacted by the media after a local news organization had been notified by an anonymous party of their concerns about the Milo Foundation. We did not issue a widespread news release simply because we did not want to hurt the Milo Foundation. After learning that a local news organization was going to air a story about Milo, MHS issued a limited-release statement to the Marin Independent Journal.

As with many rescue organizations throughout the Bay Area, the Milo Foundation has been instrumental in rehoming numerous dogs and cats since its inception. MHS is committed to doing anything that we can to assist Milo staff in correcting the problems that currently exist and developing operational procedures that meet the ongoing needs of animals in their care.

Our top priority remains – as always – to ensure the health, safety and welfare of animals in Marin.

Thank you.
Carrie Harrington
Marin Humane Society

Steve Siadek

Jill, thank you for sharing both the good and bad sides of animal rescue. I hope readers understand that no organization is perfect and all need improvements. The community needs to share in the responsibility of helping homeless animals and pursue solutions rather than creating drama.

Carrie, I'm disappointed that MHS sensationalized the findings using terms like "shocking conditions". Shocking suggests abuse and neglect and that could not be farther from the truth. I'm a former shelter director from Seattle and while Milo needs improvement you've done the group and community a disservice. If you are a leader in the animal welfare community, I would expect you to work to solve the problems before making harmful statements to the press. MHS is well funded and well staffed relative to most shelters, use these resources to help more animals rather than harm their chances at a new home. Did your announcement to the press help solve the problem?


Carrie Harrington,

"Shocking Conditions"?

You and MHS should be ashamed of yourself.

(rescued dog by Milo)

susie fought

Jill, thank you for this piece. Steve (and pixie), thank you for your comments. I'm also outraged.

Carrie, who told the Journal to remove comments made about this article on their website?


Tracy Tingle

Thank you for this Jill... Your clarity and honesty is really valuable right now.

Lynne was over watching my kids for a bit last night and we had a moment to catch up some on all this highly inflamed drama.
To quickly address a couple of the issues that Ms. Harrington raises: The expired meds were in a container label, "Expired Meds" because you can't just throw that stuff away in the garbage, so it was up on a shelf awaiting the time when someone could properly dispose of it.
As to the animal who was in bad shape--that is because he arrived to Milo in that condition, and, as the documents that Milo (and undoubtedly MHS by now) have indicate, the dog's wounds were being treated, but he hadn't had the time to recover from whatever horrible situation he had been RESCUED from...
And, the cats with ringworm were in an isolated area, and had been treated for ringworm but hadn't recovered yet.

It's truly unfortunate to witness this infighting and damaging behavior when assistance is clearly what is needed. How about an article from the Marin Journal asking what may the community and MHS do to help an organization that does incredible work but is overwhelmed?

Tracy Tingle

Dee Gattina

Thank you for your balanced and insightful story.

Milo sounds like many other independent rescue shelters. Trying to do right, but it is so easy to justify anything if the alternative is "this puppy/kitten would have been dead if we didn't take them". That is true, but that black/white comparison is often used to justify doing exactly what the shelter is doing, the way it is doing it, and to avoid ever having to consider whether things should be done differently. That comparison justifies the status quo, however bad the status quo happens to be.

I have seen horrible conditions at another non-public shelter, conditions that could be improved with fairly simple changes in procedures justified by "but all these animals would have been killed". It avoids any responsibility for working to improve. And it is not always about money or volunteers. Bad management drives away good volunteers (like Jill). I've seen this many times. Unfortunately, because of the way these places are run, positive improvements seem to be impossible, so I can understand the frustration of people who leave these groups, and official groups, who then might end up using enforcement instead of negotiation.

Important question for MHS: what happened to those cats with ringworm? Are they being treated? Ringworm is unfortunate, but it is no big deal....Ringworm is like athletes foot, for heavens sake!!! Or were these cats euthanized? If euthanized, you have pretty much undermined your case against Milo, and shame on you.

Jill Posener

I'm moved by the comments that have been made here and on my Facebook Page where this blog also appeared. My history with Milo and with Lynne is complex, and I have been a vocal critic but an unswerving supporter - believing that there really are solutions to the problems our communities face with regard to domestic animal overpopulation and that MILO is a vibrant part of that solution. But it will take the whole village to combine its resources and take on the whole problem - starting with the complete lack of coordination at state level (there is NO California department which oversees animal shelters - really), continuing with inter agency cooperation that currently is stymied by vanity and jurisdictional obstruction; then let's talk about the wildly differing fundraising capacity of the huge schoolyard bullies of the animal welfare movement and their resistance to their smaller cohorts, let's take on the fact that most municipal shelters are run by POLICE DEPARTMENTS (this is flat out wrong, it doesn't work!) Enough already - I'm sick of it.

And when Carrie deigns to talk about the 'numerous' animals MILO has adopted out, let's get real with the numbers and talk about the 10,000 plus animals in new homes. Including the two beautiful declawed cats that Marin Humane Society was going to euthanise. Fuck this bullshit. You wanna know how I really feel?


How about those adoption fees? The price of adption vs. purchase are not too far off. If the rescues could make adoptions more affordable they could help many more. The fact is that regardless of income most people think that helping out the rescues and taking an animal consideribly flawed by nature or by invironment is plenty with out the $300 adoption fee.


Marie: The adoption fee is actually meant to protect the animal, by raising the cost of the adoption to a "below retail price" point, but high enough that the animals aren't considered "free".

Without adoption fees, many rescues find that their animals are adopted by people on a whim (a $300 fee is high enough to not spend on a whim!) and then returned later, or worse - "adopted" by breeders or resellers who then sell the animals for profit.

Linnea Sosa

I dropped in to the Milo Foundation in San Rafael on a Saturday afternoon about two weeks prior to the "raid" in October. The animals were clean, and the area was clean. There were two puppies in a wire pen,approximately 6 cats in separate cages along one wall, and three adult dogs in an enclosed courtyard supervised by staff. Lynne Tingle, the director,was there, and we discussed a dog I had seen on their website but who was not on site that day. Lynne was familiar with the dog and her traits, and we discussed whether the dog would be a proper fit for my home and schedule.

I sincerely hope that MILO can re-open in San Rafael.

Ginger Ray

Hi Jill, I don't know if you remember me, My name is Ginger and I now work and live at the Milo Sanctuary. I cannot tell you the mess this place was in when the Last manager left. I and the rest of the staff here have been working our finger's to the bone to make things right again. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate what you had to say. Thank you, Ginger and all the beautiful animals here at the Sanctuary

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