Anne Gryczon, the embattled executive director of Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Georgetown, was fired Wednesday evening, a member of the agency's board of directors has confirmed.
"She was wonderful; absolutely terrific at what she did," Harold Dukes Jr., a Safe Haven board member and Georgetown attorney, said Thursday. "But sometimes you can be too passionate and get too caught up with trying to do everything. There is a difference between starting a shelter and running a business, and we felt she had a problem delegating authority."
Gryczon and other members of the no-kill shelter's board of directors have not returned messages seeking comment.
Telephone messages left at Safe Haven's headquarters on Shingle Point Road also have not been returned.
Dukes said a formal announcement would be released later today, following a meeting of the agency's four-member board of directors.
Kent County Levy Court Commissioner Eric Buckson said Thursday that the Levy Court, which awarded a one-year, $830,000 dog control contract to Safe Haven in July, has not been informed of any change in leadership at the agency.
"I've asked the [Kent County] administrator [Mike Petit de Mange] to converse with the Safe Haven board to see if we can get an official statement," he said. "Even if it's true, our goal will still be to provide quality services on behalf of Kent County residents and I hope Safe Haven takes the necessary measures and steps to ensure their organization does just that."
Former Safe Haven board member and Lewes resident Diane Meier first reported Gryczon's firing on her blog "No Kill Delaware" and its associated Facebook page.
Meier, who resigned from the board just weeks before Safe Haven opened its doors in August, said she and several other people associated with the agency recently presented the board with a "whistle-blowers report" regarding Gryczon and ongoing issues at the shelter.
"Her major failure was not doing enough to get dogs adopted," Meier said Thursday. "Once [Safe Haven] took control of the county contract, they needed to quickly move dogs into homes, but they just didn't do that, which resulted in the tragedies I've reported on my website."
Meier was referring to reports that dogs picked up by Safe Haven are being boarded at off-site holding facilities, where they are not receiving proper attention or care.
Accusations about the conditions of those animals, as well as numerous other reports of mismanagement at Safe Haven were made public during a Dec. 1 hearing of the 22-member Animal Welfare Task Force, appointed by the state Senate in June.
At that time, Gryczon, who served on the task force as executive director of Safe Haven, refuted claims animals were being mistreated or that Safe Haven was inadequately prepared to deal with the responsibilities of the county contract.
Page 2 of 2 - A legislative aide for state Sen. Patricia Blevins (D-Elsmere), who chairs the task force, said Thursday she was unaware of any communication announcing that Gryczon would no longer serve as Safe Haven's representative.
"I have every hope that things will improve at Safe Haven now," Meier said. "The only thing I want is for them to succeed and for the animals to get adopted into good homes."
Karli Swope, a Milford resident who works part time at Safe Haven as a foster and adoption coordinator, said she believes most of the accusations leveled against the agency were a direct result of Gryczon's management style.
"She just wouldn't let people do the jobs they were hired to do," she said. "Now that she's gone, I hope people start to see what they have in Safe Haven and the process of adopting and fostering the animals they take in really gets underway, because the staff there is wonderful and I think a lot of dedicated people who left before are going to start coming out of the woodwork to help again."
Cindy Wood, the director of medical care and operations at Safe Haven, is expected to be named as the shelter's interim executive director later today.