Animal shelter dismisses volunteer because blue hair, tattoos, p - CBS46 News

Animal shelter dismisses volunteer because blue hair, tattoos, piercings

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Collina Hart, 25, enjoyed a sunny day at the park blowing off some steam with her children. But lately, things haven’t been so picture perfect.

“You can’t keep firing your volunteers when you don’t even have the staff,” Hart said.

Two months ago, she said she started volunteering at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter and that’s when she encountered a problem that hurt her to the core.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the animals and that’s what I wanted to help, that’s who I cared about,” Hart said.

On her second day, she said it became all about her and the way she looks. She said she was told she needed to change her appearance by covering up her tattoos and removing her facial piercings or else she would need to leave.

“The fact that they hire and pay convicted felons who are currently incarcerated to work there, I really thought my appearance wouldn’t be an issue,” Hart said.

A spokesperson for the animal shelter said they have a grooming policy which applies to employees and volunteers. Hart said what is most upsetting is that no one informed her of that policy when she applied for the position.   

The Gwinnett County Police Department runs the animal shelter and released the following statement.

The Gwinnett County Police Department respects and appreciates the sacrifices that volunteers make to help serve the citizens of Gwinnett County. Just as any other government agency or business, we have regulations that govern grooming, dress, and appearance. We are continuously reviewing those regulations to ensure that they are sensible and reasonable for the volunteers that wish to serve with the Gwinnett County Police Department.  

“For them to have not said, well you might not be a good fit because of your appearance right then, I would have understood. There’s other places that will take me,” Hart said.

In fact, Hart said she has an interview with another animal shelter this weekend.

“I want change, there has to be some sort of change. They need volunteers,” Hart said.

And she said the shelter in Barrow County has already welcomed her with open arms.

There is a blue-out scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. People are expected to be wearing blue wigs in support of Hart and also to demand that the animal shelter be taken out from under the Gwinnett County Police Department.

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