Open Door Animal Sanctuary (ODAS) in the News!

The following is a Facebook post from our founder, Shane Rudman, from 4/24/2019:



AJLA has been working nonstop on a case regarding a St. Louis area shelter after being brought some serious allegations last year.

TUNE INTO Channel 5 News Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 6 and 10 pm. Jacob Long, an Emmy Award winning investigative journalist has worked very hard for months to bring this story to the public eye. AJLA is very appreciative of his and the “5 On Your Side” management for doing what was, and is, necessary to bring this story to light. The initial video and written story that aired at 6pm Wednesday April 24, 2019 is available on their website in this link. The reports Thursday will be available just after airing. We believe the story will only cover the tip of the iceberg. We believe once Channel 5 runs these 3 stories many many people will feel confident enough to come forward and share what they know.…/63-d626e5e6-9e39-4261-a2ab-317ab73c4…

AJLA contacted Investigative journalist Chris Nagus with News 4 in St. Louis last October and brought 9 whistleblowers to News 4’s TV station. AJLA along with many of the whistle blowers gave on camera interviews at that point. But the news station got cold feet after seeing how litigious the Sanctuary’s Director and board had been. We were told the Director and key board members approved spending $40,000 dollars to quiet one whistle blower. And had approved over $10,000 in fees just to monitor my personal Facebook page and AJLA’s Facebook Page in an attempt to identify whistle blowers. We were told they had one person apply to become an AJLA Advocate to get access to our private page. Their thought was to sue each whistle blower individually in an attempt to shut down the investigation. We were told they believed AJLA would go away if no one was willing to talk to us. They didn’t think it wise to sue AJLA or myself.

JUSTICE IS COMING FOR REBA and many others that deserve it in the St. Louis area.
First things first. We believe the rescue/animal sanctuary that is the focus of this investigative report and news stories has the potential for a very bright future. They will need more help and support than ever in the coming months. The hundreds of animals currently in their care deserve the community’s best effort to make sure this place gets the right leadership. The dozens of you that have helped bring this to light will hopefully get back involved to help the place become the great rescue/sanctuary the incredible founders envisioned and we all believe it can be. YOU are heroes in AJLA’s eyes.
The great people that founded the sanctuary approximately 45 years ago and 99.9% of the volunteers and employees are good people that have done much good work. But as with any organization LEADERSHIP IS EVERYTHING. We have only experienced leadership that acted like this one other time. That was at the Montgomery County ARC in Dayton, Ohio. After a tremendous amount of pressure from us and most of the entire Dayton animal welfare community, the County Manager was forced to bring in a completely independent 3rd party investigator. That investigation lead to leadership being fired and sweeping improvements have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented now. The Ohio Attorney General is now investigating the entire situation.

For more on the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center story click here

We gave the leadership of this St. Louis area animal sanctuary multiple chances to open up and cooperate. Our goal was to meet with the leadership to share what we had been given and help find a solution. All we wanted to do was help clear the air and find the truth. If what we had been told and the evidence we had been shown was true, we said we would NOT go public if the Director resigned or the board agreed to a completely independent 3rd party investigation done by Team Shelter USA or a comparable organization. (Btw…We contacted the well respected Dr Sara Pizano, founder of TSUSA, she lead the MCARC investigation. She offered to recommend a well respected organization to conduct the investigation into this sanctuary but said she will no longer investigate rescues/shelters/sanctuaries with leadership like this particular one and will only evaluate open minded orgs that are seeking guidance hoping to improve their shelters systems and processes)

We did all we could to meet with the board. I have served on the board of multiple nonprofit organizations. I was confident the board would view their responsibilities like I always had. They would understand the basic legal obligations and take their responsibilities seriously. This information would be painful to hear…even scary when we mentioned the potential of bringing in the DEA but they would be thankful we brought it to their attention so they could properly do their job. They could take action to protect the rescue/sanctuary and help it improve while moving forward.

I personally drove to St. Louis on multiple occasions to meet with known current board members. I was certain if they saw the evidence we had been given they would immediately open an investigation, just to protect their own credibility if not to protect the animals and $7 million endowment great people had helped established. I went by multiple board members’ places of work during business hours to make sure I could get in contact with them. They did all they could to avoid me. Just after leaving one board member’s personal office, he texted me. His receptionist had just told me he wasn’t available to speak with me. In his text he gave me the Board President’s cell number and said the President had been given the authority to talk with me. On my way to the President’s place of business I texted him that I appreciated him speaking with me. I’d be there in 10 minutes. When I got there his staff said he had just left 10 minutes earlier. The President of the Board literally hid from me. They filed lawsuits against very good people that were trying to help the sanctuary and threatened us with lawsuits. Their only goal appeared to be to silence whistle blowers and hide the truth. Their attorney contacted me and said even though the President had the authority to meet with me, no board members would be meeting with me. I would need to work through him. I assured him that we wanted to help the sanctuary and make sure they were aware of the allegations and evidence we had been made aware of. After explaining the basics of what we had been told and how many people had confirmed it, their attorney sent a text the next day to say he was now not allowed to communicate with me either. To say we were stone-walled would be putting it mildly.

We were eventually able to meet and/or talk with over 20 current or former employees, volunteers, vets, vet techs, and board members. The general consensus was that what we had be given was true. They all believed the Director had to be replaced but she had “stacked” the board to stay in power. They all said both animals and people were suffering greatly because of her and how she operated the rescue/sanctuary. They said her MO was to deny deny deny and then file lawsuits. Starting back in August, 2018 many of you read posts as we were trying to get some cooperation without exposing the name of the sanctuary. Reba’s story was shared as a part of that process. You can search “Reba AJLA” on Facebook to be reminded or read about it if you were not aware. You can see many animal lovers were interested in the story. The first post that comes up is dated August 15, 2018. When this screenshot was taken, the post had 6,200 reactions, 459 comments, 1.3k shares.
This all could have been avoided if the Board would have just agreed to meet, and then acted responsibly with the information. They could either do their own investigation and replace the Director, or agree to an outside independent 3rd party investigation to get proper guidance from experts. It could have been solved and the rescue/sanctuary would have been 9 months into building some great positive momentum under NEW LEADERSHIP.

Proverbs 21:15 says “Justice brings joy to the good people, but terror to the evil doors.” Many will experience joy Thursday evening. A small handful of people will experience TERROR. We are not based in St. Louis, so have reached out to key business leaders in the community to get involved and help locate the right leadership for this potentially very great animal rescue and sanctuary.
We understand, at first, this will be shocking and even disheartening for many in the St. Louis animal welfare community. But the focus needs to quickly turn to helping your community’s incredible resource into what its founders envisioned. A state of the art rescue/sanctuary founded by early and even famous pioneers in the animal welfare movement.

Again we want to thank the brave heroes that have agreed to stand up to this bully. A few of the brave souls will appear in the news cast Thursday night, even though the Director has a track record of spending freely from the sanctuary’s endowment to silence anyone willing to expose her. We appreciate that many former employees, volunteers, and board members have become followers of and advocates for AJLA. They have personally witnessed and experienced that there truly is strength in numbers.
The moral of the story….if AJLA contacts you to help solve a situation…return their calls and agree to cooperate. Don’t threaten us with lawsuits and hide. CUZ NO MATTER WHAT…JUSTICE IS COMING!