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Termination of Santa Barbara Co. Animal Services Director sparks community outcry

Posted: 4:27 PM, Feb 11, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-11 23:24:34-05

Santa Barbara County Animal Services staff and volunteers are speaking out over the recent termination of Tara Diller, who was the county's director of animal services.

"In the short amount of time we had with Tara Diller before being asked to leave for personnel issues, animals, volunteers, and staff felt safe and heard. This is not something that happens often in the public health department of Santa Barbara," said Jean Marie Driskel, Santa Barbara resident.

On Friday, February 7, 2020, staff and volunteers were notified Diller would no longer continue in her role as director of animal services.

Those who attended Tuesday's Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting are asking county supervisors to find out why.

"As a foundation member and a staff employee, we are all very concerned because we do our best everyday and if she is doing her best and that wasn't good enough, what does that mean for us? So please, we urge you to please look into it," said Natalie Stevens, a member of the Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation.

Due to personnel rules, board members were not able to comment on Diller's employment status but did share words of appreciation for those who spoke and were in attendance.

"I've learned more about what happens in the shelter from you folks coming and speaking than I have in the past. Your energy and passion came across, so thank you. Like I said and has been said, we can't really speak to that issue," said Steve Lavagnino, Santa Barbara County 5th District Supervisor.

Those who spoke on the issue are urging board members to look over the case to see if anything can be done.

"Please, I impede on you to please go ahead and do this due diligence and look into why she was fired," said Jordonna Rea, Santa Barbara County Animal Services volunteer.

The board of supervisors did not take any action.

Due to the changes within the county's animal services department, two meetings will be held in the coming days so volunteers, staff, and community members can ask questions and provide feedback.

The first meeting is on February 12, 2020, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Santa Maria Animal Shelter, 548 W. Foster Road Ed Center.

The second meeting will be held on February 13, 2020, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, 300 N. San Antonio St. Room C101-102.