The Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, located in Lawrenceville, Georgia, is facing criticism after the police-run shelter dismissed one of the volunteers at the shelter, CBS46 reported. Not because she was a bad person. Not because she did anything to harm the shelter pets. Collina Hart, 25, was dismissed because-gasp-she has blue hair, piercings, and tattoos!
Collina wasn’t informed of the grooming policy before she was hired two months ago. It was brought up on her second day that she’d need to change her appearance or hit the road. This would mean covering her tattoos, removing her facial piercings and doing SOMETHING about that blue hair. In an interview with CBS46, Collina stated
“You can’t keep firing your volunteers when you don’t even have the staff. 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.”
The Gwinnett County Police Department issued a media statement saying
“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.”
The grooming policy, found here, does prohibit piercings and unnatural hair color, but says the final decision on what’s allowed is left at the discretion of the Chief. It reads
All employees have an obligation to maintain the highest degree of personal hygiene, grooming and dress. Eccentricities and
faddish styles in individual appearance detract from the professional image, uniformity and the overall mission of the
Department. Because it is impossible to provide examples of every appropriate or unacceptable grooming and/or dress issue,
employees and supervisors should make decisions concerning grooming and dress considering the following as guidelines for
what is considered neat, conservative and professional business-like appearance. Employees not in compliance with
Department guidelines when reporting for duty may be relieved of duty until such time as they comply with Departmental
guidelines. Division Commanders may grant exceptions to any portion of this policy for special assignments, such as, but not
limited to vice and undercover work. The final determination of acceptable limits of grooming and dress will be at the
discretion of the Chief.
305.03 HAIR STYLE
Employee’s hair will be neat and clean at all times. Wigs and hairpieces are permissible, but both the natural hair and the
wig/hair piece must conform to the above regulations. Hairstyle, coloring or frosting, if used, will reflect a conservative look.
While in uniform, women’s hair must be shorter than shoulder length unless the hair is pulled back and secured at a single
point, for example bun, braid, French braid, or ponytail, so it will not obstruct the field of vision in any combative situations.
Hair shall not show on the forehead under the front rim of the uniform hat. A maximum of two (2) small conservative barrettes,
combs or clips may be used in the hair. Bobby pins or rubber/elastic bands conservative in nature may be used to hold the
hair in place if necessary. Hairstyle, ornaments, or retention devices described above shall not interfere with the proper
wearing of the uniform hat, gas mask, or helmet.
Other female employees shall keep their hair at a length so as not to interfere with their normal work duties.”
Collina said she would have understood if she’d been informed at the time of her interview that her unique appearance would make her an unwelcome addition at the shelter. Never mind how much she loves animals and wants to help them. Gotta uphold that image! As if the dogs and cats care she’s a bit different!
Most of the policy requirements are aimed more at female police officers. Collina did keep her hair pulled back into a single ponytail while working at the shelter.
A blue-out was held Saturday at Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in support of Collina. People were asked to wear blue wigs and also to demand the animal shelter be taken out from under the dictatorship of Gwinnett County police Department.
For the record, the Barrett County Animal Shelter has already welcomed her with open arms. Collina, you’re beautiful. You should be where you’re accepted for the wonderful, caring person you are. Gwinnett County can say what they want in defense of their “policy.” If your appearance were so important to the welfare of the shelter pets, you should have been told before you began helping the animals at their facility.
Please sound off in the comments as to whether you believe Collina was done wrong by being removed from her position as a volunteer.