Ashland Humane Society Responds to My Blog Post

February 7, 2008

by — Posted in Personal Writing

For those that have read my post on my Ashland Humane Society experience, they have replied with a long and lengthy comment which I will dissect and reply to on in this post. The italics belong to the commenter.

We thank you for your input regarding our email address being posted by Rascal. They are a wonderful organization and they do great things for the communities that they go to.

They offer low cost spay and neuter to areas where people have lost their jobs, homes, or had to take a reduced income and/or have a large population of un-spayed or neutered animals. In some of the southern counties in Ohio, they actually screen the people who use the rascal clinic for need, based on income. You can imagine how grateful these people are, who could not afford such a procedure with out the services rascals. The Ashland County Humane Society has not decided to take this approach and has allowed all who would like to use the clinic, to be able to do so.

I am responding to this blog as you forwarded it to us, i would assume for some response. Serious consideration regarding rather it should be responded to was given, but have decided to do so. There are things that would be helpful for the community to know.

I’m curious if they would have still responded if my post entitled “Ashland Humane Society’s Poor Service” wasn’t the the third hit in google when you search for the “Ashland Humane Society”. While I stated in my original letter that I was posting it on my blog an e-mail reply would have been fine, though I would have replied with this post just the same.

Lets address your above issues.

Yes, you did email us regarding an appointment. That email was sent on Fri Jan 25 @ 12:52 pm. This is LESS then 48 hours prior to the arrival of Rascals. We close out the schedule for each clinic, either when the clinic is full, or the Thurs or Fri prior to the arrival of the clinic. Rascal needs some type of surgery schedule prior to arrival, so they know how to stock the unit for that clinic. Usually, our clinics fill up first.

This particular clinic was closed out weeks prior to Fri, Jan 25, as it was FULL. This information was stated on our voice mail at our phone number. I am not sure how we could have conveyed that information to you since you only emailed us. We may have been able to respond to your email if emailed us earlier.

The time ahead was irrelevant since according to the Rascal unit site there was no stipulations on the amount of lead time that I would need to schedule the appointment nor did it even suggest I call ahead and verify. I just had the forethought since it was the morning of and didn’t know what time they arrived in the morning. If the Rascal Unit needs a certain amount of lead time it should state that on their web site where it states to schedule it.

The easiest method to respond to individuals who do not know any better would be to set up an auto-responder in your
e-mail stating the best option is to call ahead and verify if you need to make an appointment or need immediate assistance. This is how you would inform anyone via e-mail. Simple to the point and no one trying to get in contact with you would have proper expectations set.

I am sure this is still upsetting to you as your perfered communication is email, and you seem to be a very techy person having his blog and webpage. But, we are a Humane Society dedicated to the welfare of ANIMALS. So, we have animals to take care of, animals need medications, transported to vet care, spay and neuters scheduled, adoption visits arranged and handled, cages need cleaned, adoption websites need updated, injured animals need picked up, neglect and inhumanities called need fielded and investigated, community public relations, fund raising events, managing volunteers, and we could go on. So, our apoligizes, if we only get to check the email once a day or less. Animals come first.

E-mail is my preferred communication and I expect any business that offers this as a means of contact to take it seriously. I do not need immediate contact, though you felt a full two weeks to respond in any fashion is good customer service. If e-mail is too technical I’m sure postal mail would arrived in that same time frame. I neither asked nor requested a post on my blog, but since i did post it I felt it fair to include that I did in the e-mail. While you may say animals are your primary concern within the same time frame I have contacted other veterinary clinics on spay and neuter prices and have gotten a response with 24 hours. At least two of those were volunteer organizations, from your assumptions this must mean they care about pets less then you.

At the point my blog article was originally published you were unaware which person it was that e-mailed you, I would expect that any organization that offers e-mail as a form of communication to at least check it before they go home for the day. While you may state that pets are your first concern if I was contacting you about a potential adoption of of one your pets and had not received a response I could have moved on to the next place that would. If you honestly believe e-mail is separate from telephone calls wait until the current tweens are grown up and expect responses via text messaging. Maybe that will be the time frame you actually take it as an important business tool. It is a business tool to you, it allows for adoptions and communications with your customers. Not having a timely response may put off potential adopters and then an animal may have to put to sleep if it’s not rescued. Ironically checking your e-mail at the end of every day may save at least 1-2 animal lives a year, so I too think of the animals.

Your email started with ” I would like to make an appointment.” And, appointment IS need. Someone would have had to made contact with you to schedule your animals, get your animals names, give you a time to show up, and pre-operative surgery instructions. Your blog here starts that you called to CONFIRM your appointment, just by sending an email does NOT mean that an appointment has been set. It is just a means to contact the Humane Society, to let them know of your need/interest, so someone can get back in touch with you.

If you notice that e-mail that prompted you to respond was written to the Rascal Unit – I was kind enough to CC to let you know what was being said. It is as much your fault as it is their’s that the site said I could make an appointment via e-mail. This also begs the question – why would someone have needed to make personal contact? To Schedule – that was what the e-mail was for? Get my animals name’s? I could tell you there names were larry, curly, and moe but there real names may be profanity terms that I only use around my own house (they aren’t before you ask). The point is there is no ID or verification that I’m bringing you the pet I said was hence the name requirement is ridiculous especially since it is on the paperwork I would have to bring in. Give me a time to show up? This is as simple as replying to an e-mail. Pre-Operative instructions? I already received these from the Rascal Unit website, also I had all the paperwork filled out and ready to go. It seems I was more prepared for this then you were.

If it’s just a means to show interest you are beholden to contact your partner Rascal Unit and inform them to make the changes on their web site.

I am sure that you would not contact your personal medical surgeon via email to schedule a surgery. and if you did and recieved no response assume that things were going to go all as planned. How would you even know if they received the email? How would you know if they were or weren’t having email/computer problems. Wouldn’t you be concerned when you did not hear from them, if they even recieved your email. Would you know wonder if there was anything you needed to know or prepare for prior to your surgery? ‘Wouldn’t you want your appointment confirmed? Wouldn’t you want to personally hear from someone?

Are you going to compare the two? Really? We’ll start with the fact to get medical surgery you have to be referred to a surgeon from a general practioner. At this point what I did do was contact the general practitioner (Rascal Unit) went to their web site. They referred me to contact you – their contact method stated for you was to to calls OR e-mail to schedule an appointment. In real life though your GP would contact the surgeon and the surgeon would then contact you to make an appointment. Yes I have dealt with medical confirmations of my appointments via e-mail. I would also defy you to find me a doctor’s office that doesn’t reply or acknowledge their e-mail they receive. I know you don’t have to deal with insurance but they do and their e-mail addresses are regularly monitored. They know this is how they get paid. I’m sure a receptionist at the doctors office would reply in e-mail that the person would have to call for an appointment if e-mail was an issue.

Why would I personally want to hear form someone. I’m sorry you don’t think e-mail is personal. Wouldn’t taking the time to handwrite a note actually be more personal? Yet because I type it out instead of hand writing it (which in my case would have been far less legible) it becomes more impersonal then a phone call? I don’t need you to waste time calling me since your could have replied to the e-mail that you can’t take appointments liek that quicker then it takes you to walk from one end of the room to another to answer the phone. If you throw in that somehow you have someone sitting next to the phone – this person should have a computer alerting about incoming e-mail.

Further, many Humane Society are not open on weekends, others still have short hours on Saturday’s and office staff is not there. I am surprised that you were not concerned about this possible issue when you sent your email on Fri. afternoon.

Are you daft? I knew the Rascal Unit was going to be and knew from the website how long the procedure would take. The only thing I didn’t know was the start time. Why should I have worried about the hours?

Apparently, concerned came about the morning of the clinic Jan 27, 2008. That is when a phone call was placed by you. And, one of two volunteers for that day (sharing her own personal time) answered the phone, in the middle of checking in, half of the 59 people/pets scheduled for the clinic that day. She was trying to keep the check-in flow going, and answer peoples questions, give instructions, handle surgery paperwork, assist with animals, ect. things were a little chaotic. She personally apoligizes if she conveyed herself as rude to you, as that was not her intent. She also stated she did not elaborate or explain to you the procedure or discuss the email as she did not have the convience of time to do so. She stated she told you it must not have been checked as she knew how hard we work at getting back with everyone. She personally did not know who & when the last time the email had been checked. You even stated that services were offered for Feb 24, 2008. We schedule the clinic on a first to contact us basis, even if a message is left.

We did not ask or instruct rascal to place our email address on their website. And, we gave serious consideration over the last couple weeks to your input about having it removed. In the end we decided let it remain as in the 14 plus clinics we have done with rascal, this is the only incident. And, we apoligize to you, we are terribly sorry.

Once again – I was worried since I hadn’t heard back about the start time or arrival. I hadn’t even considered my e-mail would have been unseen or ignored. I stated the woman who answered the phone cut me off, which was fine. She didn’t do it rudely and I understand what she was going through. Since I couldn’t say she was or was not the one responsible for checking the e-mail I didn’t take it our on her. Her answer about how often you do check your e-mail made my original addressed to the Rascal Unit rather then you. The partnership you two have going on is what is at issue. If I remember correctly you are the ONLY one that states on the Rascal Unit web site that you accept appointments via e-mail. Other stops have e-mail addresses you can INQUIRE to. Yet under your listing it states I can make an APPOINTMENT with you at that e-mail address. This means Rascal Unit doesn’t have a standard block posting it puts with all of it’s partners, hence you or more specifically someone in your organization has put forth that expectation. You don’t have to remove your e-mail address you have to get the wording changed to set expectations properly.

 

One more note for the community and yourself to know. Your Ashland County Humane Society is only operated by volunteers, NO PAID EMPLOYEES.

These very same volunteers have regular paying jobs at 40 or more hours a week, some go to college in addition, involved in their church communities, some also volunteer for other non-profits, they have spouses, kids and some grandkids. They have regular busy lives such as yourselves and the hours they give to the humane society are hours taken away from the other parts of their lives. They do this for their love of animals and to provide service such as this for the community, to provide a better future for the animals, and to help and assist the people in the ,Ashland Community. The core group of daily volunteer’s is small as most do not have time or want to dedication such a large amount of their free time to keep this Humane Society operational on a day to day basis. We appreciate and are grateful for anyone who can, does or wants to help, no matter how big or small a gesture. Mr. Gueth yourself included, as you can see we could use help in the techy department, it take a “back burner” to the needs of the animal.

These volunteers are the very same people who are “providing poor service”, a little support and understanding is uplifting and greatly appreciated, it makes it worth the effort.

Ashland County Humane Society

Why does paid or un-paid make a difference. If I come over and mow half your lawn and then don’t charge your not going to be annoyed. I understand volunteering – I used to volunteer at for the Friend’s of Habourtown yearly for 3 years before my move to Oregon. Counting my commute I had a 55 hour work week and still volunteered 30-40 hours a week minimum for 5 months a year. My wife during this same time frame put in more hours then myself with the same organization. This being a decade ago – we still checked and responded to our e-mails daily. Some of us even checked them from our day jobs on break since it takes less then a minute to know if there is anything pressing.

Via the Internet today I can order pizza from at least 3 places in town (one of them I can or soon can text message in an order), I can order groceries and have them delivered next day. I can mange my bank account and order anything over the internet. I can order dog collars that have GPS tracking on my pets so I can get e-mail updates on where they are or track them in real time with a cell phone. The Internet really is where communication and business of all types is going.

After posting the original blog article my wife and I discussed starting a low cost service for non-profits to get suitably wired in the 21st century. You may say that this is to make a profit, but really it isn’t. The price we have been throwing around is less then 1 hours worth of computer repair at most places in your town, also it is to cover the prices for the other services we would be configuring for you – domain registration is not free. Essentially the cost has been driven down where the profit would be less then what I make in an hour during my day job. So I want to make clear that trying to work on that idea is not some get rich quick scheme. Though we may be able to work something out at cost for you.

I tell it like I see it and don’t hold back. In your letter you admit there is some PR shortcomings and wrong expectations set that I have pointed out more explicitly. I hold no personal anger to you that has lasted more then the 20 minutes that it took to write the original post/e-mail I sent out. I call it like I see it, because of this some people don’t like me. That’s fine. If you can look at this as straight talk and no personal animosity we may be able to work something out. The best thing I can say is that I’m enough of a straight shooter that I won’t lie to you since I have no reason, nor will I go behind your back since obviously I believe in the openness of the public forum.

I would say you can call me (I think I left my number in the original e-mail) I would suggest you write though. You see if your not on my contact list any phone calls to me go straight to voicemail. My voicemail is then e-mailed immediately after it’s left. So essentially in take the time to call me it’s still going to be handled on my side via e-mail. Oh and that service is free. If you were on my calling list though it would ring my work phone, my home phone (if it was plugged in), and my cell phone at the same time until I answered one of them.

P.S.

Same with faxes too (also free).

P.P.S

Soon I may be moving my postal mail over to a service that scans it in an e-mails it to me.

E-mail really is important to a business to get anything done in a faster fashion then the old ways.

 

UPDATE:

I forgot to add a couple things – I managed to respond within an hour and half of the comment being left since I was alerted to it via e-mail.   The second part is the first hit in google for “Ashland Humane Society” points to an adoption site.   To adopt a pet I have to e-mail someone outside of the Ashland Humane Organization to a personal e-mail address.  Granted that person probably works for the Ashland Humane Society, but all inquiries should be set to go through the address they use for business.   Finally the same site points to the Ashland Humane Society’s website  – www.ashlandhumane.com – the problem with that is they allowed their domain to expire and it was picked up by a spam blog on Jan 17th of this year.  This is another they need to update with their partners and fix within their organization.

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