Thursday, April 9, 2009

Georgia Animal Control Association lack of unified opposition to gassing

The Georgia Animal Control Association was founded in June of 1987 by concerned Animal Control Personnel from across the state of Georgia. The sole purpose was to form an organization in which animal control personnel - whether management, shelter worker, or field worker - would have a support system, informational center and training agency to address related needs of Georgia's animal control agencies.

Historically, the Georgia Animal Control Association (GACA) has been filled with shelter's that are opposed to or have poor partnerships with the rescue community, fail to implement offsite adoptions, enforce failed pet limit laws, lack any meaningful free or low cost spay/neuter programs and appear to be completely unaware of the other innovative programs which have proven to cause a decline in killing. The blind follows the blind down a path of control that knows only how to kill.

Animal shelter reform isn't only about how shelter's kill off society's homeless pets but why we can't seek out the alternatives.

Killing our companion animals is preventable, killing is a tragedy and there is still too much of it going on in Georgia's Animal Shelters. How we reduce that killing from it's current levels and make sure that any killing is done in a humane and compassionate manner is nothing less than a dishonest and disgraceful writing of our animal welfare history.

Georgia Animal Control Association Mission

Stopping the senseless slaughter in our animal shelters starts with leadership. Leadership in our animal control industry that is sourly lacking. The leaders of the "animal control industry" have to provide the leadership to give shelters and their communities the tools they need to succeed. Instead, all they promote is an enforcement mentality that blames the public for the killing rather then address the root causes that feed the killing frenzy.

Policy that focuses on a "legislation, education, and sterilization” (LES) mandate that blames the public for the mass and senseless killing rather then taking the lead to prevent it.

LES remains nothing but a failure.

First, LES DOES NOT put any responsibility onto the shelters that are actually doing the killing, nor does it question if a shelter’s own actions are causing increases in shelter death rates (as indeed many are).

Second, it takes the onus off of poorly performing shelters by blaming the public for shelter failures that are themselves animal cruelty centers.

Third, it does not question the perceived need to kill.

Fourth, the "plan" focuses only on how efficient and cost effective that killing can be rather then on focusing on preventative programs that have demonstrated success in stopping it.

Finally, it promotes punitive legislation—such as cat licensing, leash laws, limit laws and mandatory spay/neuter, nuisance animals on threat of citation and impound—which not only diverts resources away from lifesaving programs to bureaucratic enforcement, but leads to increases in killing in those very same shelters which the laws are passed.

Georgia Animal Shelters - A State of Crisis Control

The need for a clearing house of progressive information is critical. Many of Georgia's animal shelters in a state of absolute disarray. They operate under sub-standard conditions and lack a unified plan for reducing high kill rates. The foundation of a unified plan is the formation of a partnership between the animal shelter and the rescue community. Working as partners, they can successfully build a more humane shelter system that both minimizes companion animal deaths and insures a truly humane euthanasia when there are no other options.

There simply is no acceptable explanation why, despite overwhelming public opposition to gassing shelter pets, a few facilities in Georgia persist in ending pets’ lives in torturous, inhumane, outmoded, unregulated and unsafe gas chambers. Instead of addressing the abuses that gassing includes we are left with lifetime of excuses why gassing must continue.

House Bill 606 and its Senate counterpart, SB 232, would have closed the loopholes that allow several Georgia counties and cities to continue using animal gas chambers. Had they passed, humane lethal injection or oral ingestion of sodium pentobarbital would have been the only method of euthanasia allowed statewide. The bills also would have prohibited the cruel method of heartstick except on unconscious or comatose animals in certain situations.

Yet, the Georgia Animal Control Association (GACA) failed miserably to "unify” in support of bringing all shelters into compliance with citizens’ wishes. Since the vast majority of previously gassing animal shelters in Georgia have ceased the practice, there simply is no good reason for the remaining gassing shelters to cling to this barbaric method of killing animals.

There is clear evidence that shelters still using the gas chamber do so without proof of exception. Worse yet, they offer no excuses for operating illegally and do so with an air of arrogance. Worst of all, their illegal actions are protected by the very state agency charged with the responsibility of “Animal Protection”. All of these factors raise serious quality of care issues in gassing shelters and indicate a gross lack of compassion for the suffering of animals entrusted to their care.

Killing by gas is not only wrong, it is a state-sanctioned act of animal cruelty committed on an innocent, sentient being who deserves much better.

Meet the Georgia Animal Control Association's
Board of Directors

President - Tommy Condrey from Metter County email:

Vice President - Regina Wells - Tift County, Tifton:

Secretary/Treasurer - Cindy Weimann - City of Madison Animal Control:

District 1 - Past President Glenda Ott - Cobb County, Marietta: Cobb County is in violation of the court order for illegally installing a gas chamber in 1995.

District 2 - Past President Bobby King - Toccoa/Stephens County. Officer Bobby King recently won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Animal Control Association despite Toccoa/Stephens being one of the few shelters that still allows shelter dogs to be sent out to research. Phone 706) 282-3275

District 2 - Steven Eades - Barrow County - Phone 770) 307-3012

District 3 - Robert Ellington - Thomaston Police Department:

District 3 - Henry Freeman - Cowetta County, Newnan Phone 770-254-3736

District 4 - Christine Tillman - Putnam County, Eatonton

District 5 - Connie Easn Collins - Evans County, Claxton

District 5 - George Smith - SCMPD Animal Control, Savannah Phone 912-652-6575

District 6 - Rebecca Bruner - Tift County, Tifton

District 7 - Oscar Hulett - Jeff Davis County, Hazelhurst

Conference Classes: Georgia Animal Control Association

On March 5th and 6th 2009, GACA sponsored a workshop on "Animals and the Law". The course outline focused on enforcing animal cruelty laws, but there was an obvious disconnect regarding gassing shelters who are in effect committing egregious acts of animal cruelty.

Key speakers for the workshop included persons in leadership positions with the Department of Agriculture and/or members of the Department’s "Companion Animal Advisory Board". These speakers were well-positioned to garner support for legislation aimed at ending this inhumane method of killing in our state's shelters, yet they failed miserably to do so.

Companion Animal Rights Movement - lack of action - lack of a unified plan

One keynote speaker who missed a golden opportunity to encourage support for banning gas chambers was Claudine Wilkins, a founder of Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals (GLPA) and who represents Best Friends "No More Homeless Pets" in Georgia.

The web site for GLPA states their opposition to gas chambers and although Ms. Wilkins does not represent GLPA, as an attorney, she would have been more qualified than most speakers to address some of the language issues of HB 606 and SB 232 that were raised by animal control personnel in attendance. Furthermore, these issues should have been discussed and resolved during her actual presentation.

On the second day of the workshop, Cheryl McAuliffe, Georgia Director of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), delivered an update on current animal legislation pending in both the House and the Senate. Again, pulling the plug on all gas chambers in Georgia shelters should have been the centerpiece for discussion by HSUS and - yet, the GACA still failed to come to an agreement supporting these critical bills. This writer suggests that it is this failure that all but sealed HB 606 and SB 232 to be declared "dead on arrival" only days later.

Carolyn Danese, President of the Humane Association of Georgia (HAGA), was the next speaker and she too covered state legislative initiatives. It is unconscionable that HAGA would take a neutral position on such critical legislation that would effectively put an end to this cruel method of killing our state's animals.

The third and final speaker of day two's seminar was none other then the head of Animal Protection in Georgia - the Department of Ag's Mary Greene. Not only has the Department of Ag thumbed their noses to the will of the people but they are in violation of a court order that requires them to enforce the laws concerning licensing and inspections of some of the most egregious gas chambers that are STILL killing our innocent homeless pets.

If we can not count on the leadership of groups like the Humane Society of the United States, the Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals, the Humane Association of Georgia and the Georgia Animal Control Association to UNIFY against ALL forms of animal cruelty, especially when those acts are being conducted in publicly funded shelters, with a "wink" of protectionist approval from the Department of Agriculure's "Animal Protection Division", then we have a much bigger problem in protecting ALL of our sentinel beings as opposed to just those were it is convenient in doing so.

An act of animal cruelty committed by the public is no different when committed by a thoughtless shelter policy that ignores the pain and suffering these creatures endure only to be discarded in the nearest landfill. Some might suggest the later is more egregious since it is conducted by those who take an oath to uphold ALL the laws that protect animals from this suffering.

We can not effectively adopt our way out of a killing mentality without a formidable plan. This plan will require more people willing to adopt from a shelter. To be successful a comprehensive adoption program includes public access hours (in the evening and on weekends) when working people and families with children, our most sought after adopter demographics, can visit the shelter. To truly be effective shelters must be transformed from "killing centers" to pet friendly shelters that the public feels comfortable in visiting.

The public WILL NOT visit and adopt from shelters in the numbers necessary to save rather then destroy adoptable pets IF they are gassing shelters. The public simply lacks the stomach needed to condone this act of cruelty under the excuses that allow it to continue.

Lowering the slaughter numbers requires shelters that organize offsite adoption locations in their communities. Locations where people live, work, and play, not the county landfill where they dump their garbage. Not the county detention center where they house sex offenders.

Many of Georgia's animal shelters are located in these remote "dual function" locations and thus effectively kill off any adoption prospects that might be possible.

Building an adoption program in the community good responsive customer service; fair, but not overly bureaucratic, adoption screening; clean facilities; a good socialization and care program so that animals are happy and healthy, and more. When all these programs are comprehensively and rigorously in place, the shelter makes it easy to do the right thing, and experience has shown that the public does.

Only then can the advertising campaign leverage people’s love of animals, and their desire to bring about an end to the killing, an end to the gassing to its full potential.

Here is a list of counties or cities still using the outmoded gas chamber in Georgia. If most Georgia counties and cities can use EBI, why can't they all? An attached study based on North Carolina shelters proves EBI is less expensive and also doesn't carry the risk of danger to workers. So why keep costly gas chambers?

1. Ashburn, City of (in Turner County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Ashburn.)
2. Barnesville, (City of) Animal Shelter (In Lamar County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Barnesville.)
3. Butts County Animal Control
4. Cordele, City of (In Crisp County)
5. Cuthbert, City of (In Randolph County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Cuthbert.)
6. Haralson County Animal Shelter
7. Hawkinsville, City of (In Pulaski County; no county facility.
8. Henry County Animal Control
9. Lakeland, City of (In Lanier County; no county facility.)
10. Macon, City of (In Bibb County; no county facility; chamber operated in City of Macon, under the jurisdiction of Macon Police Animal Control. Macon City Council voted unanimously June 2008 to cease using chamber by July 1, 2009.)
11. Mitchell County Animal Control
12. Spalding County Animal Shelter
13. Vienna, City of Animal Shelter (in Dooly County; no county facility)
14. Warner Robins (In Houston County; no county facility)

UNITED FOR PROGRESS" is a prophetic overview of what can and will be when all Animal Control/Animal Care Personnel come together in one mind and one accord to become professionals in this vocation.

To visit GACA's web site:

1 comment:

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