Regina Isenberg said she was removed Monday from her role as president of the board of Bridge Home No Kill Animal Rescue. Isenberg said the other board members gave her no reason for their action.
“I couldn’t believe it. I thought ‘surely they don’t mean this,’” said Isenberg, who founded Bridge Home. “They sent me a letter in the mail, and it said the board is going to vote me out as president. They didn’t say why. I never thought anything like this would happen. I have volunteered for the animals for 25 years.”
The brief letter, sent by Bridge Home’s Board of Directors to Isenberg’s Kingsport residence, states: “the Board of Directors at the Bridge Home No Kill Animal Rescue wishes to inform you that you have been removed as president of the organization.”
It continues, “the board of directors has decided to remove you and establish new leadership.”
The letter was signed by Alexa Serfis on behalf of the Bridge Home Board of Directors.
The Bridge Home No Kill Animal Rescue’s Board of Directors issued a statement Tuesday afternoon in reference to Monday’s meeting. One paragraph in the statement referenced the board action. “At a recent meeting officers were elected, and a new set of by-laws were adopted. The Bridge Home continues its work and is dedicated to its goals as an alternative to other shelters. Contrary to recent reports and some statements, no one has been removed from the Board of Directors and everyone is welcome at the Bridge Home No Kill Animal Rescue in Bountville.”
Isenberg and her attorney were not allowed in Monday’s meeting. She said she was told she could attend the meeting alone, but not her attorney. She said she decided not to attend the meeting alone.
Jane Adams has known Isenberg for several years, dating back to the days before Bridge Home was built.
“These people who are trying to oust her had nothing to do with building the shelter,” Adams said. “Regina devoted herself to building that shelter, basically by herself. If it wasn’t for Regina, there would be no Bridge Home animal shelter.”
Sylvia Massey has been involved as a volunteer for Bridge Home for several years and has served as the organization’s treasurer.
“Regina has been very good at raising funds to keep the shelter going,” Massey said. “I think that on a day-to-day basis, Regina has done an excellent job. She loves the animals. She knows how to handle them, and everything she has done has been for the animals.”
The 78-year-old Isenberg has been involved in animal shelter work since the 1990s. She said that in 2002, she became involved with a group of individuals interested in creating a no kill network for animals in Northeast Tennessee. In November of that year, the predecessor to the Bridge Home No Kill Animal Rescue was created under the name of the Humane Society of Greater Sullivan County.
In 2004, the organization changed its name to Bridge Home No Kill Animal Rescue. At that time it was operating out of a small facility rented to shelter dogs.
When the organization outgrew that facility, it worked to build a permanent shelter, which opened in July 2015 on Highway 75 near Tri-Cities Airport.
Bridge Home operates as a nonprofit organization and receives no public funding from the state or area localities. Adoption fees and fundraisers provide money to run the shelter’s day-to-day operations.