Friday, September 13, 2013
DOCUMENT "BE THE WAY HOME" delivered to AAC on 8/28/13 (CAT RESCUE)
August 30, 2013 at 1:01am
TRULY BE THE WAY HOME
In order to TRULY “BE THE WAY HOME”, the following IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENTS and CHANGES MUST BE IMPLEMENTED. THIS FACILITY HAS BECOME A NIGHTMARE TO ANYONE WHO CARES ABOUT ANIMALS, AND ESPECIALLY TO THOSE OF US WHO WORK TIRELESSLY DAY AND NIGHT TO SAVE THEM!!! THIS MUST CHANGE - TODAY. BLOCKS MUST BE REMOVED – EVEN IF THOSE BLOCKS ARE EMPLOYEES – OR WORSE – MANAGEMENT!
WE HAVE WRITTEN, SPOKEN AT MEETINGS, SIGNED PETITIONS, AND STILL NOTHING HAS CHANGED – IF ANYTHING IT’S WORSE THAN IT WAS A MONTH AGO. $250,000 WAS GIVEN TO THE MANAGEMENT WELL OVER A MONTH AGO AND REALLY ALL THAT HAS CHANGED IS FURNITURE??!!! SERIOUSLY??!!! HAVE ANY NEW EMPLOYEES BEEN HIRED WITH THAT MONEY? I WAS UNDER THE IMPRESSION (AS WERE MANY OTHERS) THAT THE FUNDS WERE FOR JUST THAT – HIRING MORE WORKERS TO CARE FOR THE ANIMALS AND HELP THEM FIND HOMES!!
MANY OF THE EMPLOYEES ARE STILL LARGELY UNTRAINED, RUDE TO POTENTIAL ADOPTERS AND CALLERS, LAZY (REFUSE TO LOOK UP INFORMATION AND VERIFY IT IS CORRECT) CALLOUSED AND SEEMINGLY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE ANIMALS, THE MANAGEMENT IS STILL LACKING AND BEREFT OF ANY UNDERSTANDING OF ANIMALS AND CERTAINLY OF THEM ADOPTED – THEY TOO COULD SEEM TO REALLY CARE LESS IF ANIMALS MAKE IT OUT ALIVE DESPITE THEIR CLAIMS TO THE CONTRARY. THERE ARE PEOPLE WORKING AGAINST SAVING THE ANIMALS ON A DAILY BASIS UNDER THE GUISE OF DOING THEIR JOBS, AND MORE ANIMALS ARE BEING KILLED NEEDLESSLY ON A DAILY BASIS THOUGH THERE ARE EMPTY CAGES THROUGHOUT THE FACILITY!!
THE KILL RATE OF 70% (+/-) FOR CATS DID NOT DECLINE BETWEEN MAY AND JULY, 2013, AND DOES NOT LOOK TO DO SO FOR AUGUST EITHER. MR. HALLETT HAS HAD OVER A YEAR TO ENSURE THAT HCAS BECOMES A NO-KILL SHELTER AND THE ONLY THING THAT WE HAVE GOTTEN SO FAR ARE NUMEROUS ANIMALS KILLED UNNECESSARILY AND EXCUSES. THE TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW. IT CAN WAIT NO LONGER!!!
THERE IS A LARGE DISPARITY IN THE NUMBER OF DOGS SAVED AS OPPOSED TO CATS. THIS IS DUE TO THE FACT THAT MORE EFFORTS ARE MADE TO SAVE THE DOGS, AND VIRTUALLY NONE ARE MADE TO SAVE THE CATS!!! (So there is no misunderstanding, I am glad to see ANY animal make it out ALIVE, but feel that the same efforts should be made for ALL, not just dogs!) AUGUST’S KILL RATE IS LIKELY TO BE JUST AS BAD, IF NOT WORSE, THAN MAY, JUNE AND JULY, AND THE MAJORITY OF US FIND THIS UNACCEPTABLE AND INEXCUSEABLE!!
As the DIRECTOR, Mr. Hallet SHOULD BE DIRECTING the EMPLOYEES – NOT TAKING DIRECTION FROM THEM!! The following recommended processes, rule changes, etc. should have been not only THOUGHT OF, but IMPLEMENTED BY MR. HALLET OVER A YEAR AGO. IF MR. HALLETT IS SINCERE IN HIS DESIRE TO MAKE HCAS A NO-KILL FACILITY THEN IT IS TIME FOR HIM TO STOP TALKING AND START TAKING ACTIONS.
THE FOLLOWING ARE MY SUGGESTIONS ON CREATING A TRULY NO-KILL FACILITY TODAY – NOT A MONTH FROM NOW, NOT IN NOVEMBER, TODAY. I THINK YOU WILL FIND THE MAJORITY OF IT IS COMMON SENSE, EASILY IMPLEMENTED AND WILL RESULT IN ACHIEVING THE “SAVE 90” GOAL (WHICH SHOULD HAVE ALREADY BEEN ACHIEVED) WITHIN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME (POSSIBLY IN ONE MONTH, BUT ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN THE CURRENT 70% KILL RATE WE ARE SEEING FOR THE CATS, AND JUST OVER 40% FOR DOGS I BELIEVE). AND SINCE THE ALLMIGHTY DOLLAR SEEMS TO BE THE BIGGEST CONCERN – RATHER THAN THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING (PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL) OF THE ANIMALS - BUT I THINK THE ANIMALS HAVE WAITED LONG ENOUGH FOR THE FUNDS TO BE ALLOCATED TO THEM AND ONLY THEM SO THE MAJORITY OF THESE SUGGESTIONS SHOULD NOT INCREASE EXPENSES AT ALL, OR IF THEY DO, MINIMALLY. OF COURSE, WE’D HATE TO IMPOSE ON THE PURCHASE OF SPORTS EQUIPMENT, VACATION HOMES, LARGE SCREEN TV’S OR MORE IPADS OR FURNITURE…
THESE ARE NOT NECESSARILY IN THE ORDER OF IMPORTANCE WITH THE EXCEPTION OF #1 – THAT IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WE MUST DO - RIGHT NOW.
1.) AN IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM MUST BE PLACED ON ALL UNNECESSARY KILLING OF THE ANIMALS – ESPECIALLY AS LONG AS THERE ARE EMPTY CAGES – and a whole ROOM is EMPTY. THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO KILL A HEALTHY (AT ARRIVAL ANYWAY), ADOPTABLE ANIMAL WHEN THERE ARE EMPTY CAGES IN THE FACILITY! THE ONLY REASON AN ANIMAL SHOULD BE KILLED IN THE FACILITY IS IF IT IS ILL TO THE POINT OF SUFFERING IMMENSELY AND CANNOT BE TREATED. ANY ANIMAL THAT BECOMES ILL AFTER INTAKE MUST BE IMMEDIATELY TREATED AND NOT LEFT TO LANGUISH AND CERTAINLY NOT TO BECOME SO ILL THAT IT TAKES OVER A MONTH TO RECOVER – WITH SERIOUS MEDICATION - IF IT EVEN RECOVERS! EVERY EFFORT MUST BE MADE TO KEEP THEM ALIVE, HEALTHY (EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY!) AND FIND THEM HOMES!!! AT THE VERY LEAST NO KILLING ON THE WEEKENDS!!! FROM THROUGH , NO KILLING!! MANY PEOPLE ARE OUT AND ABOUT AND NOT ONLINE TO GET THEIR ATTENTION FOR ANIMALS THAT ARE GOING TO DIE THE NEXT DAY!!
2.) THE FACILITY MUST FOCUS ON GETTING THE ANIMALS OUT – ALIVE AND HEALTHY – PERIOD: They MUST IMMEDIATELY make things EASIER for citizens, rescues and adopters to help in whatever capacity they can!! Additional suggestions to follow to achieve this. So-called “feral” cats (often mislabeled at the facility because they are AFRAID and being mishandled) need to be SPAYED/NEUTERED, VACCINATED AND RELEASED! This was already APPROVED IN MAY!! WHAT IS THE HOLD UP THERE?!
3.) ALL ANIMALS MUST BE GIVEN FLEA TREATMENTS AND BE DE-WORMED UPON ARRIVAL. THIS WILL PREVENT MANY HEALTH ISSUES DURING THE ANIMALS’ STAY AT THE FACILITY. Yes, sadly, this will be a bit of an expense, but I am willing to bet that MANY pharmaceutical companies, as well as veterinarians would be GLAD to provide these medications either FREE or at the very least, substantially reduced costs! It should be a priority to communicate with the people whom can provide these items and get the medications coming in! Furthermore, ALL INDOOR CAGES MUST BE PROVIDED A VAPORIZOR/HUMIDIFIER FOR THE ROOM. This can be done at a very minimal cost, and the facility could probably get some DONATED. In addition, the Air Conditioning should be kept at a tolerable temperature for the ANIMAL – probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 78 degrees. If nothing else BLANKETS MUST BE PROVIDED for the animals to stay warm – ESPECIALLY when they become sick!
4.) EMPLOYEES MUST BE TRAINED TO GIVE UNIFORM, CORRECT AND UP TO DATE INFORMATION TO POTENTIAL ADOPTERS AND RESCUES, AS WELL AS TO AN ADOPTER/RESCUE THAT IS FOLLOWING UP ON THEIR ANIMAL! Too often we have potential adopters, people whom have already adopted, and/or rescues call and get someone on the phone who is either too lazy too actually look up the animal, and seemingly just makes up something off the top of their heads, or just read off whatever the computer tells them with no real regard for the fact that they are being asked about a LIVING, BREATHING, FEELING ANIMAL (at least, the person calling HOPES they are still living and breathing). Even worse is when someone does go in person and they are treated as a “bother” and the employee is beyond less than helpful! Ask me Margaret’s story – she is DEAD because of a couple of inept, LAZY and HEARTLESS EMPLOYEES!!! Adopters come from all over the place – some even come from out of state since there is a completely ridiculous “MUST BE IN PERSON” rule in place – so they need ACCURATE INFO before they make a trip to the facility! (This “rule”, too, should be removed – it is costing too many lives! We live in the digital age and there are MANY ways a person’s information can be verified remotely! We should not be forcing such undertakings onto the rescues! BUT, if it will not be removed then, an immediate hold should be placed on the animal so that arrangements can be made by the adopter – a deposit could be required to ensure their sincerity. SIMPLE.) We have had a person call on three occasions and they were told three different answers to their questions by three different employees! We have had potential adopters call to find out the status of a cat and be told “it was killed” or “it’s gone” and no verification was made resulting in the person giving up – and the cat was STILL ALIVE – needless to say, the cat was killed because “no one came for it” REALLY??!! This must also STOP – IMMEDIATELY.
A policy must be put into place that:
A.) ANY TIME A PHONE CALL IS TAKEN ON AN ANIMAL, IT MUST BE LOGGED INTO THE SYSTEM. This is to ensure that an animal isn’t “accidentally” killed when someone is coming to save it! No excuses about this taking too much time. The employee should be able to type in a quick note while talking to the caller!
B.) THE PERSON TAKING THE PHONE CALL MUST PHYSICALLY VERIFY THAT THE ANIMAL IS ACTUALLY IN THEIR CAGE, AND IF THEY AREN’T, THEN THEY MUST FIND OUT WHERE THE ANIMAL IS.
C.) IF SOMEONE IS CALLING ABOUT AN ANIMAL THAT IS EITHER ON THE KILL LIST, OR ON THEIR LAST DAY, AN IMMEDIATE HOLD MUST BE PLACED IF THE PERSON WANTS TO COME MEET THE ANIMAL – ESPECIALLY IF THE ANIMAL HAS BEEN PUT ON THE KILL LIST ALREADY!! (It’s easy enough to cancel the hold after say, 24 hours of the person not showing up but you can’t “UN-KILL” an animal!!)
D.) IF AN ADOPTER/RESCUE CALLS ABOUT THE STATUS OF AN ANIMAL THEY’RE WAITING TO PICK UP, THEN THE EMPLOYEE MUST GET ACCURATEINFORMATION AND VERIFY THE STATUS OF THE ANIMAL. IF THE ANIMAL IS WAITING FOR VET SERVICES, THEN AN “ETA” MUST BE PROVIDED.
E.) IF THE ANIMAL BECOMES SICK WHILE AWAITING VETTING, THEN THE ADOPTER/RESCUE MUST BE ENCOURAGED TO COME SEE THE ANIMAL AND GIVEN THE OPTION TO TAKE THEM HOME TO RECOVER FOR VETTING. Conversely, the facility COULD be PRO-ACTIVE if they KNOW it will be more than one day to vet the animal and let it leave the day it’s adopted/rescued and an appointment given to return. (I know there are MANY people against doing this, but there are plenty of ways to ensure the person returns to vet the animal upon recovery, so I don’t want to hear any excuses on this. Fact is more people would return than not.)
5.) ANY EMPLOYEE THAT WORKS AT THE FACILITY MUST ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THE ANIMALS’ WELL-BEING – PHYSICAL AND EQUALLY IMPORTANT – EMOTIONAL! EMPLOYEES/VOLUNTEERS MUST BE TRAINED ON PROPERHANDLING AND ANIMAL BEHAVIOURS AND THIS MUST HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY! THE EMPLOYEES OF THE FACILITY MUST BE HELD TO A HIGHER STANDARD AND PROTECT THESE ANIMALS. We have watched cats that came in sweet and gentle, though very afraid, turn into growling, hissing, TERRIFIED cats in a matter of a couple of days. A volunteer witnessed an employee tell a cat “you’re evil” just a few days ago as she passed by her cage. (We have VIDEO PROOF to the contrary!! She is a sweet and lovable kitty and is currently a NOW CAN GO – evil, right.) This was a MAMA CAT WITH BABIES – the employees MUST be taught behaviors of cats, but especially MAMAS WITH BABIES – it is common knowledge that mama cats will PROTECT THEIR BABIES and can be “aggressive” in doing so. SHE SHOULD NOT BE PUNISHED FOR THIS WITH DEATH, NOR SHOULD SHE BE SEPARATED FROM HER BABIES!! Had this employee said something like that in front of a potential adopter, she could’ve cost the kitty her LIFE as that was one of her “last hold days”!! I have to wonder how many times someone has made such a callous and THOUGHTLESS remark in front of an adopter and cost the animals its life!!! Many of us believe that the cats are being handled too roughly or at least without any real compassion by people who either don’t “like” cats or people who are just ignorant of their behaviors and sensitivities, and causing them to be “less adoptable”. Again, there is a common theme of people who just do not CARE AT ALL there, so they’re very likely giving the cats VERY LITTLE AFFECTION let alone actual care. Whether this is intentional or not, is inconsequential – it must be stopped. A foster for one of the rescues witnessed a vet tech handling a kitten VERY ROUGHLY and told him immediately that it was UNACCEPTABLE. THE VET TECH LAUGHED AND TRIED TO DISMISS WHAT SHE SAID TO HIM!!!! THIS CANNOT BE TOLERATED!!!! The employees need to either be trained to deal with (usually) frightened cats or not allowed to interact with them. And they need to be trained not to MAKE them frightened if they aren’t already!! If you look at videos on the Urgent Cats Facebook page, you will see the sweet nature of the majority of them, even when frightened, and then someone comes through and decides a cat is “hissy” or somehow “not suitable for adoption” and there is something fundamentally wrong there. The people who determine whether a cat lives or dies should ALSO be TRAINED on cat behaviors and must give each cat a thorough and COMPASSIONATE EVALUATION. They can’t simply walk up to the cage, stare at the cat for a few seconds and decide their fate. The employees must understand that each cat has their own “personality” and MUST UNDERSTAND that when cats are frightened, their first instinct is for FLIGHT. SINCE THEY ARE CONFINED TO A CAGE THAT IS NOT AN OPTION (DUH) SO THEY WILL SOMETIMES CHOOSE FIGHT. THIS SHOULD NEVER BE A DEATH SENTENCE FOR THEM – AS HUMANS, WE MAKE THE SAME CHOICES WHEN GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY. They must understand “playful” behavior such as “nips” (or “love bites”) and “swats” commonly seen in kittens and young adult cats. THIS SHOULD NOT LAND THEM IN QUARANTINE AND MAKE THEM UNAVAILABLE FOR UNADOPTION!!! I personally have cats who “swat” and “nip” and I understand the difference in those behaviors and ones of AGGRESSION – it’s not hard to tell really. Yes, some cats are not frightened, and that is WONDERFUL, but there is no reason to kill a healthy, normally sweet cat, because it has a heightened fear-response. I’m not a “cat expert” but I have raised MANY cats, converted “feral” cats into house cats, and have taken it upon myself to LEARN about them THROUGH OBSERVATION AND READING. It is utterly pathetic that animals that are confiscated out of horrid conditions must come to a place where they are at minimum, no better off! Even more pathetic is the fact that cats that were in homes just the day before being dumped at the facility get tortured to the point that they are hard to be adopted out again!!! One final thing on this, DO NOT SEPARATE MAMAS FROM THEIR BABIES AND DO NOT SEPARATE OWNER SURRENDERS WHO COME IN TOGETHER!!! Again, anyone who understands animals would know that this further disrupts and confuses them! It’s bad enough they have been taken out of whatever environment they are adapted to (outside, home, etc.) but to come in to an unfamiliar place, already scared and confused and then be SEPARATED from their beloved babies or companion is too much for them to take in all at once! At least allow them the comfort of being with SOMETHING FAMILIAR!!! And give them BLANKETS AND TOYS FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!!
6.) PROPER LABELING OF SEX OF AN ANIMAL: We see way too many “unknown sex” animals and too many animals that are labeled as the wrong sex. How hard is it really to tell if it’s a BOY or a GIRL?! Who determines these things? Are they properly trained or is it just someone in intake taking a guess or taking the person who is turning them in’s word for it? Many animals get overlooked and are ultimately killed because someone determined their sex wrong so an interested adopter/rescue will by-pass the animal because they want a particular sex.
7.) COUNSELING FOR CITIZENS WISHING TO SURRENDER AN ANIMAL (AND THEY NEED TO BE ADVISED THAT THE ANIMAL WILL BE KILLED AND HOW LONG THEY WOULD HAVE TO RECLAIM IF THEY INSIST ON ABANDONING THEIR ANIMAL) AND FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ADOPTING: Unbelievably, people still either don’t know or refuse to accept that their animal will be killed at the facility – this must be presented to them (somewhat compassionately, yet firmly) so that they understand and make an informed decision!! This too, should be a no brainer. Often, people are surrendering their animals as a last resort or because somehow they feel they have no choice. Counseling should be mandatory to offer alternatives – spay/neuter vouchers can be issued, veterinary services can be offered, (let them make payment arrangements if necessary) training for the animal, whatever the person needs that will allow them to KEEP their beloved pet. The facility should work more closely with rescues to assist people who are finding themselves in TEMPORARY circumstances but would be able to reunite with their animal after a short period of time. I don’t even see why the facility could not be a TRUE SHELTER and HOLD an animal for someone for a brief period – and the owner could assist with costs incurred such as food, litter, veterinary care, etc., rather than leaving that to the rescues. Many would be willing to do whatever they can to keep their animal, but are forced to make the decision to abandon them at the county facility. It would be a great step to have volunteers or an employee work closely with adopters to ensure they find the “right” pet for them as well. The volunteer/employee should do a screen of the potential adopter – find out what kind of pet they’re interested in. Do they want a feisty, spunky, FUN pet, or do they want a laid back, mellow lap cat? There are many questions that should be asked, but the whole process should only take a few minutes. The employee or volunteer could then take them to the animals and allow them to “meet” them and make a choice. Adopters need counseling during the adoption process to ensure a smooth transition into the pet’s new home to reduce the instances of adoption returns as well. SPCA in Pinellas County currently “counsels” all their adopters. Adopters need to understand that there will likely be a transition period for an animal – especially if they have others in the home. (They need to understand that the rescued pet may not be the one who has to adjust either. It COULD be the resident animal(s) and they must be allowed time to adjust to the new arrival.) There is a proper way to introduce new pets to residing ones and most people aren’t aware of this. There is also a possibility, especially with cats, that there will be a serious adjustment needed – the cat may hide, refuse to eat, and be “grumpy”. All these things should pass within a couple of weeks, but if it’s an older cat, it can take slightly longer. Of course, there is no “standard period” of adjustment. Like people, cats and dogs are individuals and must be allowed to adjust. Counseling MUST be provided before an owner can “return” an adopted pet as well. A “checklist” should be provided for them to take home with them as a reminder of the counseling they received.
8.) PROOF OF OWNERSHIP & MANDATORY 10 DAY HOLD FOR OWNER SURRENDERS – NO IMMEDIATE KILLING OF ANY ANIMAL *EXCEPT IF RABID OBVIOUSLY*: STRAIGHT TO VETTING FOR CHECK-UP/SPAY/NEUTER (probably usually won’t be necessary) THEN STRAIGHT TO NOW CAN GO WHILE THEY WAIT OUT THEIR HOLD! SEND THEM UP FRONT BEFORE THEY CAN GET SICK! ALLOW THEM TO BE ADOPTED AND ONCE THE HOLD IS OVER, ALLOW THEM TO GOHOME!!! This should be a NO-BRAINER!! This will give the owner time to possibly make a change, or find a way to reclaim their animal (with NO RESTRICTIVE FEES – a small, reasonable fee, fine, NOT AN EXHORBINANT ONE). A considerable number of owner-surrendered animals are already spayed/neutered, so that would be an expense that can be saved and make for a quick adoption since the animal can go home with their adopter on the spot. It puzzles me why this hasn’t occurred to anyone already. Killing an “owner surrendered” pet within 24-72 hours is LUDICROUS!!!
9.) MINIMUM 14 DAY STRAY HOLD: (But NO KILLING JUST BECAUSE OF A DATE IF SPACE IS AVAILABLE!) ANY ANIMAL WEARING A COLLAR/TAGS MUST BE HELD AND EVERY ATTEMPT MUST BE MADE TO FIND THEIR OWNER!! (Best bet is to tell whatever person is trying to turn them in to TAKE THEM BACK WHERE THEY GOT THEM AND LET THEM GO HOME!! THE FACILITY SHOULD TAKE A PHOTO OF THE ANIMAL, MAKE A BRIEF DESCRIPTION AND TAKE INFO FROM THE PERSON TRYING TO TURN THEM IN.THIS WAY IF SOMEONE CALLS LOOKING FOR THEIR ANIMAL, THEY CAN BE TOLD WHERE THE ANIMAL IS LOCATED.) IF IT IS INSISTED THAT THE ANIMAL BE TURNED OVER TO ANIMAL SERVICES, THEN THE ANIMAL MUST BE HELD AS LONG AS NECESSARY TO FIND THE OWNER!! EVERY EFFORT MUST BE MADE TO FIND OWNERS OF OBVIOUS PETS!! THE FACILITY MUST START A SITE DEDICATED TO HELPING OWNERS FIND THEM AND EASILY RECLAIM THEM – AGAIN - WITHOUT RESTRICTIVE FEES!! A minimum 14 day hold would certainly allow an owner a better opportunity to find their lost animal. Most people who have indoor/outdoor kitties will wait a day or two to see if kitty comes home. By the time they realize that kitty isn’t likely coming home, and can GET TO the facility, their kitty might be on their last day at the facility. Or it could be TOO LATE!! ** This can also help alleviate owner’s animals being killed after a “well-meaning neighbor” brings them to the facility.** And obviously, it gives each kitty (and those of us trying to save them) a few more days to find a HOME – LET’S “BE THE WAY HOME” for ALL animals and GIVE THEM TIME!!
10.) NO MORE “LAST MINUTE/5 OR ANIMALS OFF HOLD” & AFTER HOURS HOLDS - RESCUES MUST BE ALLOWED TO PLACE HOLDS 24 HOURS A DAY (REGARDLESS OF THE BREED OF ANIMAL) – ADOPTERS SHOULD BE ABLE TO CALL AND PLACE A HOLD AFTER HOURS AS WELL – ESPECIALLY FOR ANIMALS ON THE KILL LIST!! This ability is still in place for dogs, but was taken away from the cats. This must be RESTORED IMMEDIATELY. There is no excuse for a rescue to have to monitor the cats all day every day and try to decide “who” is in danger of being killed the next morning. Most people who “work” for rescues have “DAY JOBS” and cannot monitor the animals like the facility can! It is also difficult to arrange foster care for the animals they want to rescue, and quite often, a foster isn’t found until late at night!! Furthermore, a rescue may be “full”, then have an unexpected adoption or a new foster come forward at the “last minute” so they need the ability to PLACE A HOLD AT ANY TIME – EVEN AFTER THE ANIMAL HAS BEEN “SIGNED OFF” TO DIE!!! This is another RIDICULOUS “RULE” that is prohibitive and opposite of “BE THE WAY HOME” and MUST be REVERSED IMMEDIATELY!! ESPECIALLY FOR RESCUES!!! Adopters should also be able to place a hold because contrary to popular belief, there are many people who aren’t on the internet a lot and may not see a cat’s bio and picture until it’s “too late”. It should only be “too late” when the animal has already been killed – NOT BEFORE. TOO BAD IF IT CREATES A LITTLE EXTRA WORK – WE ARE SUPPOSED TO “BE THE WAY HOME” – TO DENY SOMEONE THE ABILITY TO GIVE SAID HOME OVER A MATTER OF A FEW HOURS OR EVEN MINUTES IS LUDICROUS!!! Again, it is easy enough to cancel a hold, but THE ANIMALS CANNOT BE UN-KILLED!!!
11.) CLEAR AND CONCISE COMMUNICATION WITH RESCUES/ADOPTERS AFTER A HOLD HAS BEEN PLACED/ADOPTION APPLICATION COMPLETED: Currently, when an animal is on hold for a rescue, or has been adopted, no time-frame is given to anyone as to WHEN the animal will be ready. The facility calls the rescue/adopter and DEMANDS the animal be picked up RIGHT AWAY. There have been numerous occasions where someone implied to a rescue that if the animal(s) wasn’t picked up BY THAT DAY, they would KILL THE ANIMAL(s)!!!! HOW IS THIS ACCEPTABLE? Again, I remind you, most people in rescue have normal jobs and LIVES. We cannot be expected to “drop everything” and run to the facility! A MINIMUM of 24 hours’ notice MUST be given when the animals are going to be vetted so that the rescue/adopter has time to organize transportation and fosters, etc. Ideally, the rescue should be told within 24 hours of the hold being placed WHEN the animal will be ready! It should also be noted that adopters cannot always make it to the facility quickly. They too have jobs and lives and may even be out of town. I realize there is a problem with people not showing up to retrieve their new pet – it’s a sad reality of the world we live in, but the ANIMALS MUST BE GIVEN EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO GO HOME!!
12.) SICK ANIMALS: We should not still be seeing the number of sick animals we are still seeing. It seems to many of us that the cleaning and protocols have gone by the way-side yet again as more animals are getting sick, and they are getting SICKER and taking LONGER TO RECOVER than they were even a month ago!! We have seen many instances where an animal was adopted only to become sick while waiting to be vetted – in fact, this seems to be the “norm” in the facility. Often, people are called and told their new baby “is sick and probably won’t make it”. (Reference Tang) This needs to stop and it needs to stop RIGHT NOW. PEOPLE SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO COME SEE THEIR BABY AND DETERMINE THE BEST THING TO DO AT THAT POINT!!! If there is a back-up in “Vet Services”, then the animals need to be released to the adopter/rescue IMMEDIATELY so that there is less chance they will get sick while they are waiting to be vetted. (Especially to rescues – we all KNOW the rescues will bring them back!) This would also free up cage space. And I don’t want to hear the excuse that people won’t bring them back – anyone who wants to adopt an animal from a facility is doing so because the animal will come spayed/neutered as a general rule. Also, when an animal is sick, several employees have told potential adopters “oh that one’s sick, pick another one…” They have also REFUSED to allow “sick” animals to be SEEN by potential adopters when the adopter has specifically come in to save them. (Reference MARGARET.) THIS IS UNFORGIVABLE!!! There have been numerous people that have been sent to the facility by Urgent Cats or other folks and this has happened. When a cat is back in “Isolation”, it is also ridiculously difficult for people to get to see them – several people have stated that it was flat out REFUSED. This too is unacceptable. If a person comes in to see a specific cat, they MUST be ALLOWED to see and interact with them – NO EXCUSES!!!
13.) ADOPTION/RESCUE LIMITS MUST BE REMOVED (or at least changed to allow for more) AND FOSTERING THROUGH THE FACILITY MUST BE RESTORED IMMEDIATELY: Of course, things have to be kept in “check”, and there must be some oversight, but the knee-jerk reaction we saw to ONE HOARDING CASE was over the top and has created a major problem in people being able to SAVE the animals’ lives! For some reason, the citizens of Hillsborough and surrounding counties have an almost higher success rate at getting animals adopted than the facility does – maybe it’s their efforts, maybe it’s that the animal has been out of the facility and is no longer stressed, who knows – but the fact is, that there are many people in the general public that WANT TO HELP but CANNOT because of the “2 animals per household” limit put in place a few months ago. This has resulted in the loss of TOO MANY LIVES. This is NO WAY to “BE THE WAY HOME!!” The best way to “keep it in check” is to ALLOW THE PUBLIC TO HELP WITH FOSTERING THROUGH THE FACILITY!! This one thing could save more lives than we can probably count or imagine. When the “Adopt-to-Rehome” and “Foster to Transition” programs were active, there was a MUCH LOWER KILL RATE and there wasn’t a disorganized, DAILY PANIC to try to SAVE THEIR LIVES.
14.) EDUCATION PROGRAMS NEED TO BE IMPLEMENTED – ESPECIALLY IN LOWER-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS: If we teach the communities to be RESPONSIBLE and HELP THEM DO SO through spay/neuter vouchers, low-cost vet services (maybe even MOBILE) and various other ways, then we WILL see the numbers of animals killed by the facility go DOWN and we would see it fairly quickly!
15.) TRAP-NEUTER-RETURN MUST BE IMPLEMENTED IMMEDIATELY:An enormous reason for the high kill rate (70% +/- currently for cats) is the fact that feral cats are NOT BEING RETURNED – THEY ARE KILLED, I ASSUME ON ARRIVAL OR SHORTLY THEREAFTER. Anyone wishing to turn in a feral cat should be advised that the cat will be vetted/spayed, etc. and RETURNED to the neighborhood. These cats are not the “danger” everyone makes them out to be, and more people need to be EDUCATED ABOUT THIS TOO. Young feral kittens should be vetted and adopted out if under a few months old and show signs of being friendly.
I think that is more than enough in the way of suggestions for this facility to become a TRUE SHELTER and not the SLAUGHTERHOUSE we have allowed it to become as of late. I feel I should send the county a bill for my time as I have spent COUNTLESS HOURS (as have many, TOO MANY others) doing the job (MORE SUCCESSFULLY I MIGHT ADD) that the FACILITY EMPLOYEES – ESPECIALLY MR. HALLETT –SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING ALL ALONG!!!
In closing, I want to address something Mr. Hallett stated at the July, 2013 AAC Meeting:
“OUR GOAL IS TO STAFF THE SHELTER SUCH THAT WE CAN CLEAN THE PUBLIC AREAS AND GET THE EUTHANASIA DONE EACH DAY IN FOUR HOURS AND SPECIFICALLY HAVE THE EUTHANASIA DONE AS WE DO NOW PRIOR TO THE PUBLIC ARRIVING SO THAT THERE'S -- SO THAT
THE PUBLIC DOESN'T HAVE TO BE INVOLVED IN THAT. AND SO THAT THERE'S NO MISTAKES WHERE SOMEBODY IS INTERESTED IN AN ANIMAL AND IT'S TAKEN AWAY BEFORE THEY
HAVE A CHANCE TO ADOPT IT.”
I find this HIGHLY DISTURBING, first and foremost, that there is even a PLAN to do aDAILY KILLING, let alone to try to RUSH it so that an animal that MIGHT have someone coming to SAVE IT is killed TOO QUICKLY for them to be able to do so! This is abhorrent and must be stopped immediately!!
Finally, many of us would like to know if Animal Services is PAID for all the animals they kill. What happens to their poor little bodies? It seems suspect to us that so many highly adoptable animals are killed – daily – when there is not only space available, but it is common knowledge to the staff at the facility that there are DOZENS – if not HUNDREDS of people working around the clock to try to save the animals’ lives. It is also highly suspect that so many cats are labeled as “FIV/FeLV positive” or “deathly ill” to justify killing them. Even cats whom have had rescue holds have been killed for such reasons as “reached their pulling limit”, or “rescue not approved” or even worse, have been TALKED OUT OF RESCUING AN ANIMAL!! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!! If animals are getting THAT “SICK” then we must re-address the cleanliness of the facility. I have been to NUMEROUS NO-KILL SHELTERS and the animals that are housed in them long term RARELY get “sick” – let alone so sick that they must be killed.
An immediate and thorough and INDEPENDENT investigation needs to be done as to the cleaning procedures as well as the testing processes that are done on the animals that are turning up so many diseases. For the immediate future, I think many of us would feel much better about the facility as a whole if INDEPENDENT necropsies are performed on animals that were so “sick” they had to be killed, as well as INDEPENDENT TESTING of ALL ANIMALS that turn up with these diseases that conveniently make adopters and rescues refuse to take the animal.