PITTSBURG — Citing a hostile work environment, among other issues, SEK Humane Society Shelter Director Kelci Cooper resigned her position Thursday.

In her letter of resignation, Cooper also cited an unsafe workplace, unsafe work practices, unpaid work time, a lack of communication with management and her own work/life balance as reasons for her stepping down. SEK Humane Society Board of Directors President Mary Kay Caldwell said these accusations have no validity.

“As the SEK Humane Society continues its work serving the residents and animals of the area, we are looking forward to a bright future that includes new projects and moving in new directions,” a written statement from the board of directors said. “As a non-profit organization, we recognize the importance of being fiscally responsible at all times and in all areas of operation. We thank the community for all the support and we welcome visitors to the facility.”

The statement also said that Cooper’s resignation was a mutual agreement.

Five SEK Humane Society employees left the shelter earlier this year, alleging that leadership had been deaf to their concerns. SEK Humane Society Animal Caretakers Valerie Weilert and Logan Rink and SEK Humane Society Animal Welfare Director Catherine Geiger and two other employees left the shelter in July, they say, because of a lack leadership and a dearth of policies concerning the safety and welfare of the animals, staff and community.

The employees said at the time that they left because they felt their concerns were not being heard or acted upon by leadership at the humane society.

Cooper’s resignation letter said she plans to keep helping four-legged lives.

“I wish the staff, animals and board nothing but the best and will continue to help save four-legged lives, forever,” she said in the letter.

Cooper is still a certified dog trainer, a certification she received through a night class she said she took on her own from On Command Training in Joplin.

“I felt compelled to get more education to help myself and other employees with handling and accident prevention, as well as help dogs become more adoptable,” Cooper said. “I plan to work with are rescues and will continue to help animals in need.”

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.