Thursday, April 29, 2010

How not to lower your city's euthanasia rate

Perhaps I am being old-fashioned, but I was always led to believe that people who are members of various city and state committees and commissions are in charge of improving a certain situation.

This is why reading the past two years of Animal Shelter Commission notes bothered me so much - the members of the Commission don't seem interested in lowering our fair city's euthanasia rate, and getting the DAS spay/neuter clinic going. Instead, they obsess about:

Enforcing the unenforceable laws. The Intact Animal Permits are a good example. Why don't these people realize that running a city in police-state fashion is not going to work? There are two types of people who own intact animals: breeders of purebred animals, and people who can't be arsed to have their animals fixed. Both types are going to either ignore, or be resentful, of this law - especially when they find out that they're required to attend a "responsible pet ownership" class. Sort of like the blind leading the not so blind...

Pursuing personal vendettas. Thankfully, some of the most recent ones - like the Gideons, Texas Pawprints, and Companion Animal Network - seem to have ground to a halt after some spectators stood up at recent Commission meetings and complained about them. Bullies are generally cowards at heart, and can often be stopped by a single confrontation.

Administrative, paper-pushing stuff. This came up at this month's meeting, when a Commission member decided that she still didn't have enough committees to run. (But then thinking up new sub-committes beats doing REAL volunteer work - the kind that gets your hands dirty.)

Although the new sub-committees are supposed to improve things at DAS, and the sub-committee members were supposed to "get with Kent" regarding their suggestions for improvement, Kent Robertson's facial expression during this discussion suggested that he'd just learned that he needed a couple of root canals.

Add on stuff like the endless discussion of the Jumbotron (some big sign at the new animal shelter). I don't know why this makes me snigger, but it just does.

Just in case any of the Commission members are not familiar with how other cities have drastically lowered their euthanasia rates, I will be posting details of some of the more encouraging success stories in the next few days. Some of them DO read this blog.

Here is a link to a PDF brochure with details of Washoe County, Nevada's success in going no-kill. One of the most impressive figures is the increase of volunteers - from 30 to 1,300 - and the understanding that volunteers play a vital role in decreasing euthanasia and pet surrender rates. For one reason or another, DAS has an abysmal record of recruiting/keeping volunteers, but show no interest in recruiting more - or finding out why they don't stay.

Most cities worked with the No Kill Advocacy Center, Nathan Winograd, and/or others who realized that the old modus operandi needed to be discarded.


Cindy said...

I would be pleased to hear that someone not on that commission did go, since their hand was forced on that.

Rosebud said...


Request a copy of the volunteer application for DAS. Unless it has changed drastically since 2008, it will be VERY apparent, very quickly, WHY DAS has few volunteers. I could go into some of the requirements here, but it would take up far too much space. At one point, the application was TEN pages, and requested every personal piece of your life story, your employment story, all the animals you ever owned, how they died, when they died, were they euthanized???? As well as social security numbers, bank account information, and submitting to a police background check. Hmmmm, wondering why folks don't "VOLUNTEER"? TO VOLUNTEER!

I can also tell you how terribly the "joint meetings" between DAS and the "rescue" community were as well. Kent made a huge public outcry when he first came to town announcing how he so desperately wanted to work with the local rescue groups, and how these would be brainstorming sessions, on BEHALF of the animals, and that, of course, he would open to every and all suggestions. He decided to "mock" me at this meeting, being as I was one of the member who so fiercely FOUGHT the ordinances, which at that time, we AGGRESSIVELY supported by local rescue, so right off the bat, I was viewed with suspicion...even though I work with two rescue organizations. Anyway, I digress...There were SO MANY ATTENDING the first meeting, that a second meeting had to be scheduled, and it was standing room only at the meeting I attended. The suggestions put forth by these dedicated, under-appreciated, and more than knowledgeable rescue coordinators was incredible and awesome. Many of these suggestions were easily achieved. EVERY SINGLE SUGGESTION, was shot down, either because it was not a decision he was responsible for (he blamed code compliance and the city council, repeatedly as being the reason a particular suggestion could not be implemented, or because it was not amenable to current policy. Rescues would also have to agree to inspections to "insure" they were not hoarders. Guess how that played in the room... In addition, instead of allowing rescues, pure-bred and mixed-breed alike, to take dogs without paying the full adoption fee (current policy...) he did agree that if rescues wished to take injured or sick dogs that were beyond the shelter's capability, that he might be able to see his way clear, to allow those animals to leave at no cost to the rescue. In all my ventures to shelters in the metro, to evaluate and pull dogs, I have never pulled from a shelter that REQUIRED a rescue to PAY. Now, some are becoming more stringent about the person's identity...usually wanting a DL, and having to be on an "approved" list of names to be able to pull on behalf of that particular rescue. But I have never had to pay for a rescue dog at a shelter. Common sense would tell you, that every one you can ship out the door, is one less in danger. But Kent seems to have a different perspective. Damned if I know what it is...but, his crocodile tears at the rescue meeting, pretty much fell on deaf ears. Especially since he spent the first thirty minutes regaling us with his a"accomplishments" and his concern and compassion for the animals in his care. It was the Kent Robertson show until a rescuer actually cut him off , to ask when we were going to talk about the dogs.

Anyway, enough for tonight...I get very verbose when I get worked up...and talking about Kent and DAS, are two sure fire ways to do that.

Rosebud said...

Sorry, mind moving far faster than the fingers tonight. Forgive my grammatical and spelling errors tonight. I'm usually much more careful.