Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Are our shelter leaders confused on shelter policies?

In an article printed in the Gwinnett Daily Post "Outlook brighter for shelter animals" writer Josh Green included this quote from shelter management trying to explain the shift that ended Gwinnett's policy of rounding up and killing thousands of feral cats each year since Lt Respess took over as shelter manager in late 2007. 

The article states "Adoptions are up 16 percent, and 28 percent more owners have come back to reclaim pets. The inflow of animals is down by 167 dogs and 1,000 cats. (The cat data is skewed because animal control has ceased picking up feral cats, which county ordinances restrict from being adopted)."

This article appears to be part of a public relations campaign seeking to justify our dysfunctional animal advisory council's and shelter management's role on improving shelter policies and "live save" rates at Gwinnett's Animal Shelter.  The above statement was issued on the role Shelter Manager Respess had in stopping the policy of picking up strays cats.

There is NO ordinance which restricts or prohibits "feral cats" from being adopted, that is a "shelter policy" procedure not an ordinance. In fact, there also isn't an ordinance that prohibits cats from "roaming" off leash or for owners to maintain control of cats on their property - yet since Lt. Respess took over in the fall of 2007 over 6,500 feral cats have been rounded up and killed.

Despite having this issue raised at numerous animal advisory meetings and despite personally delivering a message on more then one occasion to our BOC this policy continued up until August of last year when Respess finally stopped picking up "most" of the strays as ferals.

Fact is, Respess has still picked up and killed over 300 cats as strays THIS year despite their not being an ordinance which still prohibits cats as being strays in our community.

Lt Respess seems confused on the basic difference in our community passing responsible ordinances pertaining to pet ownership and shelter policies she enforces that come from the Gwinnett Police Department which is tasked with running the shelter. Part of that confusion comes from her lack of any previous experience in running a high volume open admission public shelter - a position she is clearly not qualified to hold.

These policies include the shelter policy that immediately kills all owner surrenders that enter the shelter without vaccination records - there is NO ORDINANCE which requires her to kill these dogs - she is instead simply enforcing a failed policy decision that comes from the Gwinnett Police Department - a policy I have been a longtime opponent of.

There is also no county ordinance which PROHIBITS the use of social networking to improve the chances for many of the dogs and cats facing death from being promoted in the community either yet, Lt Respess repeatedly uses "policy decisions" coming from GSP management as an excuse for killing even more dogs and cats that quite possibly could be saved if an effort was made to promote them.

We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett continue to suggest that for real change in the cultural shift in how we view the role of animal controls transformation into a role of providing animal services to our pet owners in addition to enforcing our animal control ordinances will require new management that understands the differences and concepts needed to be successful.

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