Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gwinnett's Task Force disagrees on shelter's direction

KILLED by animal control - "possible cold"?
At last night Animal Task Force meeting scheduled to discuss the groups final recommendations turned contentious on the issue of who would be best qualified to run our animal control and sheltering operations.

Gwinnett's Daily Post's Frank Reddy captured some of the raw emotions that have driven by the mismanagement of our new shelter under the control of the Gwinnett Police Department.

The task force was divided of supporting recommending a change that would have animal control and the sheltering operation report to the county administrator and as stand alone department of it's own reporting to the county administrator.  Policy, Programs and the Partnership subcommittees all agreed that this change was critically needed while the "Structure Subcommittee chaired by Beaudreau appointee Jon Richards disagreed instead recommending virtually no change in current operations.

How Richards could arrive at his conclusion that no change is needed at animal control is truly mystifying.

One would have to ignore the inhumane slaughter of over 14,000 cats using a extremely cruel and painful method to kill these cats under the watch of now re-assigned shelter manager Lt Respess in the process. GPD has a history of making poor choices when it comes to running it's version of what can be described as nothing less than a brand new facility run as slaughter house.

Despite the fact that Shelter Director Lt Respess was reassigned not because she was "supervised" overlooked the killing of over 20,000 dogs and cats many of whom didn't need to be killed.  Nor was she reassigned once information started spilling out on the horribly inhumane methods the cats were being slaughtered.  One task force meeting described the killing "if citizens killed these cats using the same methods they would be charged with animal cruelty" yet animal control committed over 14,000 acts of inhumane slaughter under Respess direction.  It was one of Respess own employees who leaked this aspect of how animals were being killed in our new shelter.

KILLED by animal control - no reason given
She wasn't even fired for failing to keep the operating procedures current and making sure those procedures were even being followed.  How GSP management wasn't able to under cover these serious management lapses in their yearly review process is telling.

Killing and slaughtering more than 14,000 cats didn't lead to the demise of Respess, she was "removed" was removed for "creating a hostile work environment".  Taxpayers deserve better than that and Richards wants to give high marks for this incompetence?

The translation of losing control of your staff was having a work force that has virtually run a muck often times killing innocent dogs and cats often times without authority as retribution to try and get even in some sort of sick political power grab were not only were the animals abused but the taxpayers as well.

To be clear, only the "structure subcommittee chaired by Richards was in disagreement with the communities for new professional management of OUR shelter. The humane community is simply tired of the excuses, the incompetent management choices and failed leadership coming from the Gwinnett :Police Department.

You can't sugar coat the reality that GSP's own management team which includes higher ups that report directly to Chief Walters failed to even rewrite their own operating procedures for over six years. GPD didn't even have enough respect for taxpayers or citizens to even change their own paperwork correcting the addresses left for pet owners who received warnings or even notification that animal control had one of their pets. Pets owners were left with notification to pick up their pets at the old shelter on High Hope Road - there is simply no excuse for being that disconnected to shelter operations.

The fact that Richards didn't bother to investigate any of the issues his committee gave recommendations for is insulting to hard work and thorough investigations done by the other three committees.

There are a number of serious issues that need to be corrected now by OUR shelter officials. To suggest that GPD has previous mistakes in staffing management positions with people who are either incompetent or who care about serving the communities needs HASN'T changed since Lt Respess was removed. Recent decisions to run off volunteers at the shelter is insulting to taxpayers willing to roll up their sleeves to try and help save the lives of animals that don't need to die. Hiring a "new" rescue coordinator to replace the old rescue community who resigned her position as well with a person who is pregnant and has doctors order not to be around animals is the height of management stupidity that Richards has to ignore as well.

Having staff meetings were the discussion doesn't focus on saving lives instead focuses on how the staff but instead discusses and orders the discontinuation on providing local volunteers with critically updates on the status of shelter animals in an attempt for these local volunteers to share that information networking on Face Book.  No discussion on how animal control could find rescue for dogs and cats scheduled to die.  For a staff meeting to even discuss not cooperating with local volunteers when the shelter's own inept management is not even able to keep it's own website current is telling on the real motivation Gwinnett Police has with running it's own version of jail and execution center for the communities homeless pets.

This is not only insulting to those taxpayers pay these officers salaries but it's an but it is abuse of power as well.

I would encourage all citizens to read the task force final report and see for yourself how YOUR tax dollars are being wasted. The community deserves better use of our tax dollars especially in these tough economic times. sometimes the only tool you have left as a citizen to you educate yourself on the issues

Here's the article;

Animal Task Force divided on issues

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A question over whether the police department should continue operating the county animal shelter has sharply divided a group appointed to review the processes of the municipal division.

"The police are the police," said Kelly Alder, a Gwinnett County Animal Task Force member in attendance at Tuesday's meeting. "Their job is code enforcement. Right now, there are officers who go to animal control just to bide their time until they retire."

Member Jon Richards disagreed.

"It makes sense for it to continue to be under the police department," said Richards, adding though, that the position of a new shelter director should be someone experienced running shelters "and not necessarily a sworn police officer."

Chairman Joel Taylor tried to guide the 17 people toward some sort of consensus to take back to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, the group's charge.

Whether or not to continue to allow the shelter to be operated by the police department as well as the role and membership of the Animal Advisory Committee were contentious points among the group.
We owe it to the board to give them our views. We're not telling them what to do. We're recommending," Taylor said. "We should provide them with all of these views."

Recommendations could include the current animal-related ordinances and services, development of best practices and study of the role of the Animal Advisory Committee.

The animal task force's four subcommittees -- partnership, policy, program and structure -- presented all of its recommendations before the group during Tuesday's meetings, but found little common ground.

According to the county's website, the Gwinnett Police Department "operates the Animal Shelter to enforce animal control laws and to shelter animals that have strayed, gotten lost or been turned over for adoption."

The board of commissioners could review the Animal Task Force's recommendations at an upcoming meeting. The task force has until the end of April to make its presentation to the board of commissioners.

Taylor said there would likely be another meeting of the task force to make final edits and alterations to the list of recommendations prior to that.

For information about upcoming meeting dates and times, visit

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Focus on interests, not positions

Wise solutions reconcile interests, not positions

Typical of many shelter reform negotiations the shelter problems appear to be a conflict of positions, and since the goal is to agree on a position, the natural progression is to talk, think and discuss the differences in positions rather than focusing on which interests or goals the opposing views may share. This type of negotiation process often simply reaches an impasse with neither side willing to compromise on positions right or wrong.

In reality the differences between positions and interest are crucial because interest typically define the problem. The basic problem lies not in the conflicting positions, but the conflict between each sides needs, desires, concerns and fears. Yes, fear of the unknown plays into every conflict resolution as well.

Looking towards shared interests instead of fixating on differing positions is what makes it possible to develop a solution that both sides can buy into. Reconciling interests rather than positions works for two reasons. First, when you look behind opposed positions for motivating interests, you can often find an alternative position which meets not only your primary interest but your oppositions as well.

Reconciling interests rather than compromising between positions also works because behind opposed positions lie many more interests than conflicting ones.

Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests, as well as conflicting ones. We tend to assume that because the other side's positions are opposed to ours, their interests must also be opposed. If we have an interest in defending ourselves, then they must want to attack us. In many negotiations, however, a close examination of the underlying interests will reveal the existence of the many more interests that are shared or compatible than the ones that are opposed.

Gwinnett's political leadership has an opportunity to reach out to our community and find a solution that lies in the areas of shared interests. Those shared interest include delivering an animal services unit that not only works diligently towards saving all of Gwinnett's adoptable pets but in seeking ways to co-exist peacefully with those animals in our community who are not readily adoptable as in the case of feral cats.

We have an opportunity to revitalize our animal services unit by bringing in a professional shelter manager capable of thinking outside the box who can bridge the gap between opposing positions despite our shared goals. It is these shared interests which ultimately brings a community closer together. Agreement is often made possible precisely because interests differ.

Shared interests and differing but complimentary interests can serve as the building blocks for a wise and fruitful agreement.