I just visited this shelter today, as I was concerned by some of the reviews I'd seen. I live about an hour away, but I am very vocal about animals and I wanted to see it with my own eyes. I've volunteered countless hours at other shelters, not CISAR, so I feel I have some places to use for comparison's sake.
Is CISAR perfect? No. No not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization ever is. However, here is what I witnessed today. I'm trying to list just what I saw, and not so much my interpretation although that's hard for me to do. :)
1. Multiple people outdoors caring for and checking on animals.
2. Dogs in large runs with access to indoors and outdoors (no grass, but still much better than no access to the outdoors at all). Runs were larger than I've seen in other shelters.
3. No more than 2 large dogs in one run. In my opinion, the runs were large enough to accommodate two dogs.
4. Yes, the dog kennel is a converted dairy barn. The dogs do have straw (which is a better insulator than polyester fluff in dog beds) and do not have to lie on cement.
5. There was poo in multiple kennel runs, but it certainly looks as though the kennel runs are cleaned daily. Straw looked fresh.
6. I saw no rats, mice, or other vermin.
7. Each and every kennel run had large buckets of water that was fresh and full, and PLENTY of food.
Now, here's my opinion: I don't know the people who own/run the place, but I do believe I've read in the paper that they have pretty much sunk th eir savings into CISAR. I only wish I had guts like that. I asked multiple questions of multiple people, and found them all to be extremely knowledgeable and honest. I seem to gravitate toward the "problem" dogs, and when I asked about one, I was told he was a good boy, but he did have some food aggression issues--with animals, not people. While I do wish the dairy barn was some nice, insulated building, this is SO much better than what it could be, and MUCH better than what I've seen at some county-owned buildings. They at least get fresh air when they want it, and have people who socialize them and who get to know them well enough to know their personalities and quirks--and therefore have a good idea of what kind of home will probably work out (or not).
Please understand that running a shelter is all-consuming. I am only a volunteer at my local shelter, and sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I have to take a break. It is not going to be perfect all of the time. There is never going to be a kennel attendant who can instantly clean a cage the moment it's soiled. There is always going to be an animal with an undetected illness. There is always going to be an animal that you think will do fine in a home (or not), but then doesn't (or does). The animals are always stressed by the coming and going of people--they want to BE WITH the people! Of course they are sad places--they are commentaries on what we, as human beings, have done to create this overpopulation of unwanted animals. I must say that I disagree with the reviews I've seen of CISAR elsewhere on the internet. Before you judge (CISAR or any other shelter), please go check it out for yourself.
Kudos to CISAR and its workers for doing their part to make their corner of the world a better place.