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Old 07-26-2008
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Default What is the best formula?

Here in Virginia Beach, our Animal Control is under assault by the SPCA wherein they are accusing them of animal cruelty and not writing enough citations.

So we need to determine which is the best formula:

Is it continuing to allow animal control to continue allowing animal control to do the enforcement as well as running the shelter or, should we seperate them and allow the ACO's to do law enforcement and once they bring the animal into the shelter, the shelter is operated by some other agency such as parks and recreation?

What benefits do you think would be realized from either arrangement and what drawbacks can you foresee?
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Old 07-26-2008
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FYI, there is a ton of info on the Virgina Beach SPCA web site for anyone who wants to read more about whats going on over there. Of course it's written from their point of view without seeing whats going on within Animal Control, but they do bring up a few interesting points.

If the shelter staff is really only two people out of a maximum of six, then I can imagine that things wouldn't be as clean as they would normally be if they were fully staffed. From my reading it looks like the SPCA wants even more then six positions to work at the shelter, but they would at least like to see them have the six they're supposed to have.

Also in regards to issuing citations, maybe Virginia Beach takes the education route more often then enforcement? Nearby Chesapeake might cite for the first violation whereas Virginia Beach would educate on the first contact. You'd really have to dig into the stats to find out such differences. I know I could write cites all day if I wanted too, but our department tries to educate first, cite later. There are tons of people I've issued warnings too that we haven't had anymore contacts with, did the education work or do they just break the law somewhere else? It's probably somewhere in the middle. Then again, I've cited people more then once, so obviously that doesn't even work all the time either.

I don't know if making the shelter part of another department would cure anything if that department can't staff it either. For the vacant positions at the shelter, you'd have to find out why people don't want to work there or why they don't stay, however, this is something the place I work at hasn't quite figured out yet either...

Jeff
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Old 07-26-2008
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I’m a one and a half horse operation here. There is one part time employee and myself, and we only work together 1 ˝ day per week, so basically I work alone a lot. I clean the shelter, run the calls, run the office, feed the animal, do the euthanasia and get rid of the bodies. Busy? Usually. Efficient? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

To work properly the ACOs need to spend as much time in the field as possible, and the kennel staff needs to do everything inside the shelter. Around here, the shelters that do have both ACOs and kennel techs, they are all employees of animal control.

There are a number of ways to handle animal complaints, and the ticket book is only one of the available tools. When I was in training, the philosophy was “I don’t care if you never write a ticket, solve the problem” and I have tended to stick with that philosophy.

The cops I work for can’t seem to understand how it works, their mind set is “here is your ticket, now lets discuss the problem”, but so long as my way is working they leave me alone about it.
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Old 07-27-2008
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Well GTO, I'm with you-a lot of LEO's seem to get some sort of kick out of jamming people with chickens--t tickets and the same is true of some ACO's. One of the former ACO's that attacked VBAC was like that. She'd rather stomp on folks rather than sitting down and saying "look, we have a problem here, we need to address it and this is what needs to be accomplished".

On the other hand, we have another ACO that I would help in any way I could because she won't jam anyone unless they really deserve it.

I personally think that ACO's should do ACO things and allow the shelter staff to operate the shelter and if that were the case, I would expect the shelter to do as much as possible to find suitable homes for the animals (where possible) when they are available for adoption or awarded to the city's custody by a court of law.
I am of the mind that an animal that is able should have the best possible chance at finding a home, but we'll never have a shelter big enough to hold them all.
The Lt. who currently runs VBAC is a great person both personally and professionally (as I am given to understand) and I think it's a little bit unreasonable to expect her to know everything she needs to know about operating an animal shelter as well as police procedures-her pay doesn't reflect it, either.
Of course, she has subordinates who work in the kennel, but the reason they can't seem to keep good people is they're not paying nearly enough to be called a "living wage" and there's almost no career path at all for these folks.

What I think it comes down to is the budget-the Police Department doesn't seem to want to let the shelter go because they'd lose the money that is slated for it's operation which doesn't seem to end up where it should.

I do notice that VBAC is almost afraid to try new things-I offered to buy the first set of microchips if they would add it to the adoption fee and allow the program to continue as self-funding but here we are two years later and they're still "thinking about it".
I just can't get over that here we are in 2008 and they're not microchipping the animals they release.
This is why I'm of the opinion that one mindset (ACO) doesn't see things from the other (a shelter) mindset.

A very vexing problem indeed.
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Old 07-27-2008
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It could be an issue of law enforcement (ACO) mindset vs. humane (shelter staff) mind set. I had a supervisor once who didn’t like animals, he would euthanize puppies and kittens the day they were available because they were so messy, and adoptions were lower than a secondary consideration. So I know it can happen, but I think it is higher up the food chain.

However, in many more cases, animal control is considered a politically correct necessary evil. The municipalities definitely don’t want the negative press involved with a high euthanasia rate, but they are even more concerned about having to raise property taxes to fund a first rate operation.

In my personal opinion, it is a total exercize in futility to attempt to solve the euthanasia problem through adoption. The only way we will ever get a grip on the problem is have a high volume, low cost spay/neuter program available everywhere that there is a Wal Mart.

We have one around here texasforthem.org but with the bazillions of animals in the D/FW area, one clinic is barely going to put a dent in the problem.

By the way, I have to ask, if you stick a light bulb in your mouth, will it light up?
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Old 07-27-2008
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I think too, that you have to take into consideration the size of the shelter. If you have ACO's that only do the field work then your shelter must be capable of taking in every animal. On the other hand if your ACO is tied up for half his day cleaning and feeding then less animals will be impounded. It all boils down to economics either way. What can your community afford to do with the resources available?

Here the shelter is separate from animal control. We have a county animal control, under the sheriff, and a city animal control under the police dept. We only have one shelter and it is operated under a joint powers agreement between both the city and county governments.
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Old 07-28-2008
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My standard work day consists of;
8:00 – 10 or 11:00 (depending of how full the shelter is) Cleaning
10 or 11:00 – 12:00 Catch up any calls
12:00 – 13:00 (If the calls are caught up) Lunch
13:00 – 17:00 Open shelter to the public
17:00 Get the heck out of Dodge

With 1 – 2 hours available in my normal work day, follow-ups are nearly never done, staying on top of problems is very difficult and preventative patrol is a thing of the past. One day a week I have another person in all day, so that is my catch up day. Another day I have her in a half day, so I get some more catch up done. We made a proposal to council to get another part time person, but it failed, so we just have to do the best we can with what we have got.
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Old 07-28-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Fester View Post
What I think it comes down to is the budget-the Police Department doesn't seem to want to let the shelter go because they'd lose the money that is slated for it's operation which doesn't seem to end up where it should.
Budget is it. It isn't efficient use of personnel to have a field professional (who has to have a lot of experience and know-how) do kennel cleaning and feeding (which doesn't take as much e. and k.h., although it takes plenty of other things). But if you don't have enough money to hire two people, you hire the one person who CAN do both, like GTO.

Seems like the first thing someone needs to do is find out where the budget that "doesn't seem to end up where it should" really is going. If the taxpayers are being told that they're funding a complete, joint shelter/field operations staff, and what they're paying for is shoring up a tight PD budget and screwing AC (now that would be a shock, wouldn't it? ), then time for the media to get in there and make some things clear for some people. That's what we pay THEM for, right?
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Old 07-28-2008
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"We just have to do the best we can with what we have got."

I love this quote, this seems to be the motto for most animal control agencies, especially in Texas. I've been told that by more than one city manager and more than one director. We are under our community development dept. along with code enforcement, building inspectors, and permitting. My guys are almost the lowest paid members of the department, there is a clerk and secretary that make less. We have 4 people employeed in Animal control, a supervisor, two officers and a kennel attendent. The officers spend 4 hours of their day trying to help the attendent get the kennels cleaned. We have three buildings to clean, office/cat building, dog kennels, and isolation building. The guys help our attendent clean the dog kennels and the isolation building then they are on the street. For 4 years now I've been asking for a desk person to answer phones, enter computer work and dispatch officers, an another attendent. But every years it's, "We just have to do the best we can with what we have got."
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Old 07-28-2008
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When underfire from the SPCA, it is important to define the role of Animal Control in the community. Define its boundaries clearly from the efforts of the SPCA while they may overlap there are strong differences.

Not to create us against them, but instead Animal Control is here to maintain the health and safety of the people in a pet friendly community with compassion for both. While the SPCA is here to spay/neuter and re-home adoptable animals or something along these lines.

The formula that sounds most effective is to contract the shelter operations out to the SPCA or other group that can maintain the animals and provide spay/neuter, adoptions etc. While Animal Control can maintain the citations, cruelty investigations, rabies compliance etc. in the community. Many SPCA don't quite grasp what the ordinances and state law allow for and what the actual criteria for owners duties as opposed to cruelty, and as we all know education sometimes goes much further than a citation.

The other option is to maintain stray animals only and as soon as the stray time is up the SPCA takes the adoptables, leaving behind unadoptables. This includes the SPCA in the decision to euthanize, if they leave them behind they are aware of what needs to be done. Shared responsibility and accountability go a long way on this point.

Just a few thoughts. I have worked at vairous shelters with different ways to collaborate or act seperately so I may be a useful resource of how these different scenarios can pan out.

Have a great day !
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