Judge to decide which Frank is frank
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1998:
KENOSHA, Wisc.––A year-long dispute
over custody of the Society of St. Francis,
one of the older no-kill shelters in the U.S.,
emerged into view on August 25 when a faction
aligned with cofounder Robert E. Frank allegedly
tried to take the donor lists and office keys from a
faction aligned with his son, Dennis Frank.
Each side accused the other of gross mismanagement.
Each claims to constitute the properly
elected board of directors.
Summoned to intervene, Kenosha
County sheriff’s deputies reportedly brokered a
brief truce. On September 4, agreed the factions
in separate communications with ANIMAL PEOPLE,
they reached an interim agreement over procedures
for running the Society pending resolution
of crossfiled lawsuits.
Sheltering about 100 dogs, 75 cats, 16
hooved animals, and many birds, the Society of
St. Francis was incorporated by Robert and Patricia
Frank in 1975. Since 1978 it had operated from a
former farm property purchased by Robert Frank.
Patricia Frank, the accounts agree,
became mentally incapacitated circa 1989. She is
apparently now a ward of the state of Wisconsin.
Dennis Frank replaced her on the Society of St.
Francis board of directors. The third board member
was Joan Rudie, the shelter manager, whose
sister Jean Carlson was assistant manager.
According to the affidavits of the Dennis
Frank faction, Rudie had a personal relationship
with Robert Frank, which apparently ended before
October 9, 1997, when Robert Frank is said to
have fired her. Carlson is said to have then
resigned, while Rudie quit the board. The affidavits
hold that Rudie told Dennis Frank that
Robert Frank had purchased a 1991 Alfa Romeo
sports car at shelter expense, with all or most costs
of driving it also paid by the shelter; made extensive
other personal use of donated funds, despite
representing that he took no salary from the shelter;
had recently diverted as much as $50,000 in cash
donations and funds from bequests to his own use;
and did not keep accurate financial records.
The Dennis Frank faction affidavits further
hold that Carlson made similar allegations to
Barbara Skan, a Society of St. Francis donor and
volunteer who now serves on the board headed by
Dennis Frank. Skan and other witnesses additionally
allege that Robert Frank donated the shelter
property to the Society, including the house he still
occupies, to avoid having it seized for sale to
cover the upkeep of Patricia Frank.
The Robert Frank faction, now headed
by Cindy Schultz of The Animal Lobby Inc., who
stepped in at Robert Frank’s request in midsummer,
faxed to ANIMAL PEOPLE an unsigned
affidavit attributed to Rudie, denying that she was
fired or ever left the board except under duress,
denying that she ever made the allegations which
Dennis Frank contends she made to him, and
asserting that “In October of 1997, Dennis Frank
was attempting to take over the Society…to secure
for himself a paid management position.”
A second unsigned affidavit, attributed
to Robert Frank, gives a similar account.
The Dennis Frank faction has managed
the Society of St. Francis since November 1997.
Robert Frank continues to live in a house on the
grounds. The factions appear to agree that the
Society is now deeply in debt, but the Dennis
Frank faction contends the debts result from prior
mismanagement, while the Robert Frank faction
claims they result chiefly from mismanagement
during the past 11 months.
The Society of St. Francis is perhaps best
known in humane circles for using the first edition
of the No Kill Directory published by Doing
Things For Animals to achieve the care-for-life
placement of several dozen animals who were left
after the North Shore Animal League,
Montgomery County Humane Society, Humane
Society of Pinellas County, and Florida Animal
Control Association evacuated and placed about
600 adoptable animals from the defunct Love &
Care For God’s AnimalLife shelter in Andalusia,
Alabama, in 1995. Love & Care founder Ann
Fields had committed suicide after the Alabama
Office of the Attorney General sued her for fraud,
alleging that she raised as much as $100,000 a
month in the name of the shelter, but spent most of
it on luxurious living divided between condominiums
in southern California and Aruba.