Volunteer Banned From Florence Animal Shelter

Debbie Rappuhn / File

Debbie Rappuhn / File

FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – The founding member of the Heart of Alabama Rescue, Save and Adopt group, who works with the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter has been banned from entering the facility for 30 days.

Debbie Rappuhn said the shelter’s leaders turned their back on her and her group’s mission on Friday.

Rappuhn described her notification.

“‘Give me your badge, you’re banned from the shelter. Remove this van from the property,'” she said.  “And I said for what? And she said for leaving the bags in the floor.”

Debbie Rappuhn has worked for five years as a lead volunteer at the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter.  On Friday she was suspended from the shelter by order of Police Chief Ron Tyler, who oversees its operations.

“Her being disciplined was not the result of a single incident. It was a series of incidents that she was warned about that led to that,” said Chief Tyler.

Chief Tyler said he has spoken with Rappuhn several times about insubordinate actions toward supervisors at the shelter.

“It’s important for volunteers to understand the structure. They are not the ones who drive the ship. The employees drive the ship, and they are there to support us,” said Tyler.

Visibly distraught, Rappuhn said she just wants her group to get back to its original goal of saving animals.

“My whole mission, H.A.S.R.A.’s whole mission, is to take care of those animals. That’s it,” said Rappuhn. “I’m not concerned with helping the employees do their job. I’m not concerned with that. All I want to do is save those animals.”

Chief Tyler said he commends the efforts of H.A.S.R.A. and credits Rappuhn and her group for bringing the euthanasia rate down to 12% in the last five years.

According to Tyler, he will sit down with Rappuhn in February to discuss the long-range goals of the shelter, and he hopes she will be on board with them.


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