In what she described on Facebook as a “stunning turn of events,” Debbie England, administrator of the popular Everything Canyon Lake, TX Facebook page and owner of Rock Bottom Repair, an auto shop, was unexpectedly voted president of Canyon Lake Animal Shelter Society (CLASS) at a board meeting on Tuesday.
Also elected to the nonprofit CLASS’s new board, according to England’s Wednesday post, were Sunni Patrice Stalbird, a well-known and beloved local animal rescuer, and Rebecca Christian, a volunteer.
Sarah Hammond, director of the Humane Society of the New Braunfels Area (HSNBA), filled a nonvoting board/advisory position. She is known to run a tight ship at her nonprofit, which contracts with the City of New Braunfels and Comal County to house stray animals brought in by their animal control divisions.
Hammond said Christian and Stalbird “have a great amount of knowledge about the animals currently in care at the shelter. They are needed to help make this transition as smooth as it can possibly be.”
According to England, the board is now looking for a treasurer. She also asked her 27,500 Facebook followers to suggest new names for the beleaguered shelter, which has faced two major scandals since 2010.
Public response to the new appointments was overwhelmingly positive on Facebook. England and Stalbird are highly regarded in the community, and most people who responded to England’s posts on two Facebook pages on were thrilled with their appointment.
But England’s appointment came as a surprise.
“I am not prepared for a complete takeover at this time,” England said. “I was actually prepared for something completely different. I expected to have the interim board as planned, but that did not happen. I honestly can’t even explain why.”
England was part of a self-appointed interim board that promised “total and complete” transparency at CLASS on Feb. 23 after it intervened to oust the controversial husband/wife team accused of running the animal shelter into the ground when they took over from Angie Gilstrap in June 2021.
England, CASA CEO Norma Blackwell and realtors Jeremy Switt and Leslee Rapp decided to step in after CLASS President Darrell Mayfield and his wife Kelly, former vice president, started talking to realtors about listing the $581,850 property in Startzville, which they could legally do under CLASS’s original bylaws.
On Tuesday, other members of that group disbanded during the CLASS board meeting and left.
Blackwell would only say that the interim board was not provided enough documentation to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with efforts to take control of CLASS from the Mayfields.
“We wish the organization well,” she said in a text to MyCanyonLake.com. “The animals will always be in our hearts.”
But on Facebook, the only public source of information about CLASS and where the drama with the Mayfields has played out over the last 1 1/2 years, England praised the Mayfields for their “grace and humility” and claimed they did provide all documents or information requested by the interim board.
“They could have stopped the meeting and takeover at any time and decided not to proceed,” she said. “They instead chose to do what’s right for the shelter. I respect and appreciate that. Their concern is for the animals, despite what you may have heard.”
She characterized anyone who criticizes the new board’s decision to work with the Mayfields as being part of the “problem,” not the “solution.”
“There are groups out there you can go rant on, I’m not in a position to give attention to negativity,” she said.
England’s comments appear to be aimed at members of three Facebook groups that painstakingly documented the Mayfield’s activities over the last 1 1/2 years, and who warned MyCanyonLake.com the Mayfields were planning to sell the shelter.
In a Feb. 23 press release England issued, she appeared to agree with the Mayfields’ detractors.
She described the current situation as “unacceptable,” and Switt the same day told the San Antonio Express the new board planned to give the Mayfields a pass just so everyone could move on.
When an anonymous administrator on Beware Canyon Lake Animal Shelter Facebook page challenged his comments, Switt advised her to lawyer up and threatened to sue her for questioning his take on the situation. The administrator quickly posted an apology.
Since promising complete and total transparency at a shelter with a long history of animal abuse, neglect and financial mismanagement, neither the interim board nor its new president has revealed much information about future plans for CLASS other than to say they’re working on them.
Today, it remains unclear exactly how the new, permanent board was elected after interim members walked out of the Tuesday meeting.
Stalbird explained today that she, Christian, and Hammond were voted to board positions by Darrell Mayfield, his wife, Kelly, who publicly resigned as a board member over a month ago, and by England. It is not known whether Kelly Mayfield stepped back up after a new vice president, Andrea Mangold, resigned on Feb. 21 over public pressure about her decision to serve as a board member.
Stalbird said she believes Kelly Mayfield was a current board member as of Tuesday’s meeting.
The Mayfields are known to delete Facebook posts and comments after someone challenges them, making it impossible to establish a reliable record of what transpired over any given period of time.
However, according to screen grabs shared on a private Facebook page critical of the Mayfields, as of Feb. 20 Kelly Mayfield was not a board member. She was demoted to foster/adoption coordinator. On Feb. 13, Mayfield hinted on Facebook she was no longer vice president.
According to Stalbird, Darrell Mayfield, a current CLASS board member and Kelly Mayfield, board status unverified, voted England in and then the three of them elected the other board members.
According to the Texas Secretary of State’s website, one person cannot be the sole director and officer of a nonprofit corporation.
“The Texas Business Organization’s Code requires a nonprofit corporation to have at least three directors, one president, and one secretary,” according to the website. “The same person cannot be both the president and secretary. Officers and directors must be natural persons, but may be known by other titles.”
So it remains unclear whether there was an official quorum of three board members present when the new board was elected. Neither England nor the Mayfields, who voted her in, responded to requests for an interview with MyCanyonLake.com.
At the suggestion of the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, under section 22.353 of the Texas Business Code, MyCanyonLake.com officially requested a copy of the recording Darrell Mayfield made of this week’s board meeting, along with all records, books, and annual reports of financial activity from every board meeting since the Mayfields took the shelter over from Angie Gilstrap.
CLASS meetings are subject to open records requests.
The good news is that posts by England and Stalbird are the first clear indication the Mayfields actually plan to leave on April 8 and are only serving as volunteers until that time. They still control the shelter’s official email, email@example.com, and are posting on CLASS’s official Facebook page.
The Mayfields did not turn over keys to the shelter within two weeks from Feb. 23, as they originally promised the interim board. They continued to make cagey Facebook posts inviting the public to support them through donations of supplies and money while alluding to perceived slights by anyone who questioned their judgment.
Both Mayfields have been credibly accused of animal cruelty, neglect and financial mismanagement during their 18-month tenure at the nonprofit. They are the focus of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Comal County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).
Unless CCSO decides to press charges at a later date, it appears the Mayfields will walk away, free and clear of any consequences of their actions at the shelter.
Since June 2022, MyCanyonLake.com has published eight articles about alleged wrongdoings at CLASS, including negative animal control reports, inadequate record keeping, lack of standard veterinary care, animal cruelty and suffering, and first-person accounts by owners who adopted unvaccinated dogs that later died of parvovirus and distemper.
Included in that coverage was a screen grab of the now infamous text by Kelly Mayfield to former kennel manager Jennifer Thompson advising her to euthanize a dying puppy by sticking it in the freezer.
It is estimated that dozens of dogs suffered for days and died in their own vomit and feces without any veterinary care at CLASS under the Mayfield’s watch. Dogs arrived at the shelter “from the border” and other underfunded shelters around the state, instead of primarily from the Canyon Lake area.
However, Stalbird, who worked as a vet tech for 20 years before starting her own housecleaning and pet-sitting business, described MyCanyonLake.com’s reporting as inaccurate and said she lost a lot of friends over the “drama” while she stuck up for the Mayfields.
She said all shelters have parvovirus and distemper outbreaks.
“I won’t say the Mayfields were perfect,” Stalbird said. “I think they got overwhelmed. Things could have been different, they could have reached out sooner. Now everything is under control and the new board will work together to make things better. We want the community involved.
“The Mayfields have been wonderful,” she said. “They show up every day. They’re helping teach us the paperwork, everything we need to know and they’re volunteering to help. They shouldn’t be pushed aside and forgotten.”
At the moment Stalbird said she is being inundated by phone calls and texts from well-meaning community members who are overjoyed about upcoming changes at CLASS.
It seems most people in Canyon Lake want to volunteer to help through donations or with their time, she said.
There’s plenty of room for both but Stalbird asks anyone who wants to walk dogs, clean kennels or perform any other volunteer activities to text her. She said most people in Canyon Lake already have her phone number.
“There’s no job too big or too small for any volunteer,” she said.
One woman told her she was disabled — and Stalbird, who also works full-time and has family commitments, said anyone who can sit in a chair can pet a dog.
“Right now, animals are number one before repairs or anything about that,” she said.
Spay-and-neuter clinics for the 55 fully vaccinated dogs and 25 fully vaccinated cats still at the shelter are scheduled.
Hammond has agreed to vet the 11 feral cats.
The HSNBA shelter director said there’s not much more the new board can do to remediate CLASS until all of the animals are out of the shelter, which is the board’s first priority.
“Then we will be reaching out to remediation specialists and find out the best way to proceed,” she said. “We need to make sure all the animals currently at the shelter are fully vetted to protect them from the germs that the property has been battling for a decade, and when we do open intake, we’ll need to make sure pets are vaccinated prior to entering the shelter.
“This is going to take a long time, but we are hoping with the support of the community, we can make it happen,” Hammond said.