Saturday, March 11, 2017

Animal Shelter Success Stories: Why Can't Caddo be one of Them?

By now it is no secret that conditions at Caddo Parish Animal Services are deplorable.

The first-hand, documented cases of animal abuse and neglect have been exposed nationwide and it is now far past time for members of the Caddo Parish Commission, in whom authority over the Caddo Parish Animal Services lies, to take action.

The time for excuses and obfuscation is over.

I am challenging Parish Administrator Woody Wilson, Assistant Administrator Randy Lucky, members of the Animal Services Board, members of the Caddo Animal Shelter Advisory Board, the Caddo Parish Commission Animal Services Committee, and all members of the Caddo Parish Commission, to work together and turn this shelter around.

Don't let this travesty define your legacy.

Huntsville, Alabama brought their shelter from one that adopts out 30% of their animals to one that now adopts out over 90% through a higher volunteer presence and a spay/neuter program that has reduced the overall number of unwanted animals in their community.

Lafayette, Louisiana has turned their shelter around through an alliance with the Target Zero organization which has implemented changes in ordinances that now allows rescue groups to pull dogs more easily.  The city also found ways to fund a new animal shelter which allows their adoptable animals to be more easily seen and seen in a more favorable light.

In Baton Rouge, the Companion Animal Alliance negotiated with the city and took over their shelter. At the time the shelter had an 80% euthanasia rate; it is now around 30% and has empty cages. They've just broken ground on a new facility. The shelter is working with rescues to facilitate adoptions and has implemented a TNR program.

Hesperia, CA Animal Shelter cited lack of leadership as one of their problems and has turned their shelter around. They now have a 20% euthanasia rate and "some physical changes at the shelter include the addition of an X-ray room for shelter Veterinarian William Connelly, a policy and training manual, a dog ID engraving machine, a new work space environment for staff and an emphasis on social media and community engagement."

Longview, TX turned their shelter around from a 70% euthanasia rate to 40% currently and still falling. Their city leaders toured successful shelters across the country and then brought in a new leader who knows how to run a shelter. The shelter is now focused on spay/neuter programs, microchip programs, and has built a new facility.

In Waco, TX, the city has partnered with the Humane Society and has  dropped their euthanasia rate to 29%. They have made tremendous gains in improving the health conditions at their shelter by sealing floors, ripped out ceilings stained in rat droppings, and replacing AC systems. Puppies are isolated from larger dogs and the city is taking a hard line on back-yard breeders.

Shelters all over the country are cleaning up their act, lowering euthanasia rates, taking steps to control sanitation and prevent spread of disease, working to create family-friendly shelters where animals can best be shown in a favorable environment.

There is no reason why Caddo Parish can't do the same.

I challenge the Caddo Commission obstructionists to drop the egos, drop the politics, and take a step toward change.  The time for token "policy review" is over - we've heard that for at least a decade.

There is simply no reason why Shreveport should be stuck with an antiquated shelter with little concern for sanitation, with too many untrained workers, many of whom show no compassion. There is no reason why we should not have a shelter that is a true shelter, modern and up to date, family friendly, with meeting rooms for potential adoptions, with an on-staff veterinarian, an x-ray machine, working cameras to monitor kennels and situations, and with a strong alliance with rescue groups and volunteers.

Don't let this hell hole of abuse and neglect be your legacy.

Be the change.

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