HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The president and CEO of the Hawaiian Humane Society is stepping down amid growing criticisms about her leadership, including over how she’s handled the organization’s euthanasia policies.
Critics claimed that Lisa Fowler bullied and even fired workers who tried to save animals.
“Some people have resigned because they can’t stand the way the animals were being treated," said Cathy Goeggel, of Animal Rights Hawaii.
The critics have also alleged that the shelter euthanized animals that have treatable conditions as well as healthy strays and surrendered pets.
Fowler was named to lead the Hawaiian Humane Society in late 2017.
In a news release, the humane society said she was stepping down for “personal reasons," and will remain on the job until April 30.
Board Chairman Bob Armstrong will serve as interim CEO during the transition.
He said in a news release that the board stands behind its staff and the organization’s policies, and that “no evidence of wrongdoing has been identified despite recent criticism leveled at the organization.”
The nonprofit has launched a third-party investigation to ensure that its euthanasia policies follow best practices, he said.
Earlier this year, members of the group People for Animals First accused the Hawaiian Humane Society of euthanizing animals that have treatable conditions along with healthy strays and surrendered pets.
At that time, humane society officials declined to speak directly to Hawaii News Now. But they said through a public relations firm that they follow all national standards for euthanasia.
It also said that its euthanasia rates are at all-time low.
As Oahu’s only open admissions shelter it takes in an average of 75 animals a day.
Those who protested the organization specifically targeted Fowler for removal, alleging that she bullies employees who tried to question euthanasia policies.
In a letter to humane society supporters, Armstrong said a national search will be conducted for Fowler’s replacement.
“Several board members will also be stepping in to offer support and guidance in key areas of our operations during the transition period,” he said.
Armstrong continued: “As announced earlier, while we believe the society has adhered to best practice euthanasia policies and procedures, we have initiated a third-party assessment to ensure that we are operating at the highest level with regard to euthanasia practices. We will keep you posted on our progress on this front.”
This story will be updated.