A personal dispute within the Yukon Humane Society is turning into a fight for control of the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter in Whitehorse.

The dispute comes barely a year since a new board of directors took over the Yukon Humane Society.


Shelley Cuthbert from the Humane Society Yukon said the accusations have created a toxic work environment. (CBC)

"I'm sure they are just as passionate, but to take it to a personal level is unnecessary. And you may not like us as people, but we're here for the animals," said Shelly Cuthbert, the current president of the Yukon Humane Society.

Cuthbert said critics are threatening the operation of the government-funded shelter. However, she concedes that she hasn’t made many friends since taking over the position.

Cuthbert adds that the behaviour of former board members has led to some individuals being banned from the animal shelter. She said the problem has gotten so extreme that she might have to close the shelter.

"We as the board of directors are very concerned about the safety of our staff and the animals we care for and we want this fight to end. We are there for the animals, and what they are doing is causing undue stress to the animals that reside there and to our staff, and it's become a very toxic working environment and it's getting to the point now where it's getting personal," said Cuthbert.

Cuthbert said most of the attacks have come through social media.

2 lawsuits filed against shelter

But, former board members say they are only reacting to a new autocratic management style at the society.

"The society is now ruled, and has been since the new acting president is there, by a power of one, and the society has lost director after director since August of last year," said Madeleine Girard, a former director of the Yukon Humane Society.

Girard is one of the people who have been banned from the shelter. She and her brother have filed separate lawsuits against Cuthbert for services they claim were never paid.

Girard said she was forced to quit after she questioned certain financial transactions.

"There have been countless, countless infractions," said Girard.

Girard said she is at a loss over what to do next.

"Ms. Cuthbert has taken over the operation and we really don't know how to take it back."

The Yukon Government's Registrar of Societies office confirms it is investigating the complaints, but it won't discuss details or say how soon its investigation will be done.