Monday, October 31, 2011

Animal Task Forced to take up shelter's cultural shift

"I think there is a culture shift in the way the shelter is perceived, and it is a good thing," said Gail LaBerge, chairperson for Gwinnett's Animal Advisory Council, which studies animal-related issues.

Yes, Gail there is a cultural shift the way the shelter is perceived and that cultural shift began when our group  "We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett" proactively worked first on repealing her Animal Advisory Council's draconian dog barking ordinance that was being misused to intimidate even responsible pet owners out of their pets. 

Our cultural shift continued when We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett lobbied for and pressured Gwinnett's Animal Shelter is stopping it's abusive long standing policy of rounding up and killing feral cats despite the fact there was never a law passed that prohibited stray cats and with full knowledge that these cats would be wholesale slaughter at our shelter.

It was under Lt. Respess's leadership that over 4,800 stray cats were killed in 2009 alone - and over 11,000 cats have been killed since Respess took over as shelter director. Yet, Laberge's control of the animal advisory council for years ignored advocates pleas that Gwinnett incorporate a life saving Trap/Neuter/Release program in partnership with the feral cat rescue community.

To be clear, Gwinnett's Animal Advisory Council chair Laberge is not supportive of Gwinnett's newly established Animal Task Force that will study many of the animal welfare issues that the dysfunctional animal advisory council has ignored for years, including shelter policy operations and the future makeup of an animal advisory council that includes pet owner voices instead of a Laberge lead advisory council that was only interested in protecting the special interest of life long appointee's to that council.

We believe that Laberge shares responsibility for long ignoring the cultural problems created by poor leadership in Gwinnett's shelter operations and in the dysfunctional advise from our failed animal advisory council as well.  We must continue to push for cultural change that prohibits animal control from immediately killing owner surrenders merely because they lack documentation vaccination records. 

We must continue to demand that the shelter proactively promote adoptions and transfers to licensed rescue partners through the use of a shelter Facebook page that is currently prohibited by shelter management.

We must change the culture of how we help pet owners with pet retention programs, including programs that help struggling pet owners with assess to low cost spay/neuter and low cost vaccination programs. 

We must reach out to the pit bull community and seek real solutions that end our communities pet overpopulation issues that lead to far too many pit bulls being irresponsibly bred and killed by seeking breeder licensing laws that require all breeders to be licensed, pass a criminal background check, maintain a business license and to submit to yearly inspections by animal control.

We must provide low cost or even free spay/neuter for responsible pit bull owners to cut down on the number of pit bulls that end up at our shelter.  We must focus our enforcement protocols on those irresponsible pet owners who allow unaltered animals to roam by mandating spay/neuter for all pets picked up by animal control before allowing irresponsible owner's to reclaim these pets.

These are all the policy decisions that have been ignored under Laberge's regime as chair for our failed animal advisory council which speaks volumes for the need for serious change in how we go about offering responsible advise to our county commissioners.

We need YOUR voiced demanding that this cultural shift spirited by the responsible pet owners in Gwinnett continues as we move forward towards building a more humane community for our family pets.

You can follow the progress of Gwinnett's Animal Task Force on our blog - We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett which remains the only real voice for change for our community's homeless pets.

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