Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gwinnett Animal Task Force Final Report

It's over, Gwinnett's long awaited animal task force report is available for all to read on our county.  Glancing through the report I marvel at how thorough the report is. It digs into the long held dirty secrets and horror stories on what goes on behind closed doors.

We started down this road over four years ago as a small group of volunteers pushed forward demanding changes in how we handled our animal welfare issues. While I don't agree with a number of issues recommended I do support the overall findings of the task force and the direction these changes will bring. We are at the brink of solving many of our long held animal welfare issues. With a focus on solving the issues that lead to far too many pits still being killed in our shelter, pushing forward with an exciting Trap Neuter Release program as recommended by Planned Pethood and closing off the excuses that leads to far too many senseless killings as well.

We must do more, however, than simply react to current issues. Gwinnett needs to have the solid leadership in running and managing our animal issues as we proudly do in ALL our other governmental departments. We seek leadership with a vision to think outside the normal realm of solutions and take our county into a new frontier of best services provided to our compassionate community of pet lovers who are served by some of the hardest working volunteers.

We are proud of your tireless efforts - the hounds and I are thankful for your efforts bringing these issues to light. Rest up, reward yourself for a job well done and rearm yourself with the information and wisdom to make this world a better place for our companion friends. Today the rescue community will be abuzz on the exiting future that lies ahead.

While Gwinnett's animal task force was truly a community effort a special shout out to some truly dedicated volunteers. Tati Romeo who's boldly sought out the truth no matter where it took her. Wanda Johnson who provided some insight and open communications that were critical in exposing the truth. Kellie Alder - I am impressed with her efforts in tackling many aspects of shelter care and her interest in the issues of behavioral analysis and training and of course her dedication to the plight of our pit bulls. Elizabeth Burgner for her leadership in the trap neuter release proposals. Jane Stewart - another of our tireless leader's - her support and knowledge brought clarity to many of our spay neuter issues.

A special thanks goes out to Joyce Kretchting, who kept the process of communicating with our commissioner's fluid, Carla Brown and Sheriff Conway who have always inspired us all. Carla's rescue group Canine Pet Rescue is a model for truly responsible rescue that all should strive to match, Sheriff Conway's tenacity ending the horrors of dog fighting is leadership we are all proud, his Jail Dog Program is recognized world wide. Theresa Cox - we may not have seen eye to eye on many of the issues I advocate for but your leadership helped bring about this success. Our board of commissioners for having the political courage to bring this project about.

My friend Sam Jeannes - a man who always had a kind heart for our shelter animals and who has been instrumental in understanding the inner workings of our shelter.

My friend Ken Coor who has promoted the targeted spay neuter programs inspired by Peter Marsh. It is the work of Peter that has lead many of the northeastern states to be role models in low kill sheltering through prevention rather than enforcement protocols.

My dear friend Susan Roelle - all the animals in Gwinnett bow in respect as Susan goes about her efforts. Her "unofficial" Facebook page Helping Gwinnett Animals has saved countless lives in the past few months away. Susan's ability to take the word no we can't and turn it into "YES WE DAMN WELL WILL" has not saved precious lives but it has inspired others to follow in her footsteps demanding we do MORE to save these precious lives.

All the citizens in Gwinnett and volunteers (including the rest of the task force members) who took time from their busy lives to attend task force meetings, write letters of support or simply spread the word to our neighbors, those who attend our church and fellow pet owners that WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS. Together YOU will take back your shelter and make this a much more compassionate community for our companion friends.

The final report is available on the county website To read the final report: