PITTSBURGH (AP) — The executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is on leave over accusations by online activists that she paid a breeder $1,000 for a purebred collie puppy rather than adopt a rescue dog from the shelter.
Animal activists who signed an online petition contend Joy Braunstein should be fired.
"It is the height of hypocrisy to be the face of an organization that promotes adoption and combats overpopulation while purchasing a dog from a breeder," the Change.org petition states.
Supporters have launched a counter petition, and Braunstein contends she's done nothing wrong.
"This is insane and ridiculous and scary. I have broken no laws. I have done nothing unethical," Braunstein told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, adding she's a tireless animal advocate. "They need to stop bullying."
Braunstein went to the Pittsburgh police who confirmed two of the petitioners, Diane Bandy, 54, of Allison Park, and Tara Vybiral, 36, of Moon Township, have been issued non-traffic citations for harassment. The citations are similar to traffic tickets and carry a small fine upon conviction.
Both women denied harassing Braunstein.
Anthony Pardo, a member of the animal shelter's board, said Braunstein is on paid leave "to get her out of the limelight while we try to figure out what's happened and formulate a proper response."