Kanab » Organization says his departure doesn't mark a change in strategy.
After 2½ years at the helm of the country's largest no-kill animal sanctuary, the CEO of Best Friends Animal Society was let go Tuesday in what the organization calls a "mutual agreement."
According to spokesman John Polis, the society is discussing possible future involvement for Paul Berry, who was with the organization during the rescue efforts of animals in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and who was instrumental in obtaining 22 pit bulls that once were owned by former NFL quarterback Michael Vick. Vick is serving a prison sentence for training the dogs for illegal dog fights. Best Friends is trying to rehabilitate the dogs.
As CEO, Berry had also been concentrating on working with larger cities around the country to implement a "no more homeless pets" philosophy.
Gregory Castle, vice president of the organization's board, said Tuesday that Berry's exit does not signal a change in strategy for Best Friends.
"This doesn't represent a change in our overall thinking," said Castle, an original founder of the group that set up its animal sanctuary just north of Kanab in Kane County in 1984.
Castle said the change is part of a four-year restructuring plan for the organization and that a national search for a new CEO will be launched that could take up to nine months.
For an organization that depends on private contributions -- raising up to $38 million a year -- capturing funds is essential.
"We want someone with animal welfare experience and has a passion for our cause and profit management," Castle said.
He also said an expanded 14-member transitional board will be seated on Jan. 24, replacing the current six-member board.
"We felt we wanted a more diverse selection for governance of the organization," said Castle. "It helps to reach into more pockets."
Asked if Berry's leaving had anything to do with the sanctuary's ability to raise funds, he answered an emphatic "no" and said he believes figures for 2008 are similar to those of 2007.
Even so, 30 Best Friends employees across the board were let go last fall in what Castle describes as a belt-tightening move and in anticipation of a souring economy. He said the organization has no plans for further layoffs of its current 420 employees
Calls placed to Berry on Tuesday were not returned.