SYLMAR (CBSLA.com) — Volunteers at a wildlife animal sanctuary in Sylmar are upset that they were let go.
The Wildlife Waystation located west of the Angeles National Forest has cared and rehabilitated some 77,000 animals over the past 40 years, according to its website.
Now, some volunteers and a former staff member are crying foul.
Mike Rapp was an animal trainer at the 160-acre facility for seven years. “There’s a whole host of things that are wrong up there,” said Rapp, who was fired a year ago.
Now, about a dozen volunteers have also been let go. They received letters of notice last week saying: “We regret to inform you that due to a failure to act in a manner consistent with the best interests of Wildlife Waystation, your volunteer services are no longer required.”
Cassandra Tchen volunteered at the animal sanctuary for six years. “My behavior conflicted with the best interests of the Wildlife Waystation, and I am no longer welcome back,” the former volunteer said.
“It used to be a huge part of my life for sure,” Tchen said choking back tears. “We wouldn’t be there if we didn’t care for animals.”
Julie Medrano was fired after 25 years of volunteering. “I am beyond hurt. I mean, I could still cry right now because it’s just so upsetting.”
“I’m really sorry that they’re upset. Change is hard. A lot of those volunteers have been here a long time. And there’s an entitlement that people feel when they’ve been at a place for a long time,” said Martine Collete, founder of the Wildlife Waystation.
The sanctuary no longer allows volunteers to hold, walk or feed the animals.
“People take things personally. This is not necessarily designed against anyone individually. It’s a policy change that we made for everybody,” Collette added.
There are 400 volunteers at the Waystation. The former volunteers CBS2/KCAL9’s Amy Johnson spoke with said they worry about the care of the animals they no longer see.