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Greenhill Lawsuit Alleges Emotional Distress

Mister The Cat with feline aids. Photo courtesy no Kill Lane County.

Heidy Hollister, a former Lane County Animal Services veterinary technician who then went on to work for Greenhill Humane Society after it took over the LCAS shelter, has filed a $700,000 suit against Greenhill that says she was subject to “unwarranted criticism and reprimands” and her contract terminated after she complained “that many of the animals were injured, sick and diseased and defendant [Greenhill] did not provide them with adequate or any medication or hygienic care to relieve their pain and suffering.”

Hollister’s suit filed in Lane County Circuit Court on Nov. 9 asks for a total of $700,000 for claims including wrongful discharge in retaliation for “reporting what she reasonably believed to be criminal conduct” by Greenhill and its vet, Gail Schroder, “by failing to provide veterinary care that a reasonable person would deem necessary to relieve distress of animals due to injury, neglect or disease,” economic damages and severe emotional distress. 

LCAS, now 1st Avenue Shelter, had been successfully going no-kill, meaning that adoptable, treatable animals are not euthanized, but animal advocates have criticized Greenhill for not continuing with the LCAS’s policies and have communicated their allegations of mistreatment and neglect via mass emails cc-ing newspaper and elected officials and via the No Kill Lane County web page (www.nokilllanecounty.org). Hollister was not available for comment and Hollister’s attorney, Claud Ingram, says he does not discuss the facts of his cases with the news media because he says it would waive attorney-client privilege. However emails on the No Kill web page between Hollister and Greenhill discuss the euthanasia of a FIV (feline AIDs) positive cat named Mister that Hollister writes she had arranged a foster home for, and the case of a dog named Oakly, who Hollister writes was slated for euthanasia and so not treated by Greenhill’s vet for crusty eyes and painful ears. Oakly, who also had kidney disease, was later transferred to a senior dog rescue for hospice. 

According the court documents, Hollister began working for LCAS on June 20, 2010, and after Greenhill took over the shelter in the summer of 2012, Greenhill accepted her “as a transferred employee as a veterinary technician” per the contract with LCAS. The documents say that Hollister observed that the care of the stray animals by Greenhill “did not meet the standard of care for animals required by Oregon statutes in that many of the animals were injured, sick and diseased” and allege that Greenhill “did not provide them with adequate or any medication or hygienic care to relieve their pain and suffering.” The documents go on to allege that in July of 2012 Hollister complained about the treatment of some of the animals, or lack of it — because they were to be “euthanized as soon as the holding period expired” and she “should not provide them with medication and hygienic care to ease their suffering.” The documents say Hollister complained to the Greenhill executive director about the substandard care and was ignored. 

After Hollister made the complaints, she was “subjected to unwarranted criticism and reprimands” and on Aug. 10, Hollister was notified that her employment was terminated. 

Jaclyn Semple, Greenhill’s assistant director, says as of press time the humane society had not been served with the court documents. She writes in an email, “We cannot comment on the aspects of the claim regarding a former employee because that involves a personnel matter, but we adamantly deny all allegations made in the lawsuit regarding the care of the animals. Greenhill provides high quality care to all animals at its shelters, including high quality veterinary care. We are very proud of our dedicated staff, tireless volunteers and exemplary veterinary professionals who work every day to maintain our high standards.”

Clarification: Mister also had FeLV, feline leukemia, which impairs the cat's immune system and causes certain types of cancer.