April 2nd, 2013 17:46 EST
Douglas County in Georgia Making Great Reforms in Animal Shelters
Current news trends are drawing focus to the topics of gun reform, social security reform, Medicaid reform, welfare reform, and prison reform, the list is endless.
What about reform in animal shelters? Although this is 2013 animals are still being euthanized across the nation due to overcrowding, irresponsible pet ownership, and pet overpopulation. Some counties are still using such antiquated methods as gas chambers for killing unwanted animals.
Recent events place Douglas County, Georgia as the leader in the charge for animal shelter reform.
The upheaval began in November 2012 when Rick Smith was hired in as the new director of Douglas County Animal Control. Since then some of the supervisory staff has resigned as well as many dedicated volunteers. Their allegations against Rick Smith include his plans to reduce shelter hours thus lessening the opportunities for dogs and cats to be adopted, reducing cage space and kennel staff. There have also been reports of funding intended for building a new kennel being used for a trouble shooting assessment of the kennel to determine what needed to be remedied. The results of that report have not been divulged.
Ex-employees who have recently resigned from the shelter strongly feel that Mr. Smith is moving away from the philosophy of a life saving shelter. They feel he has no intention of pursuing animal welfare, adoption or rescue missions. His current views are antiquated and focus more on control and enforcement and will only result in more animals being killed.
Douglas County Animal Control had a 16% euthanasia rate in 2012 which does not exactly make them a "no kill shelter" but certainly places them in a better position than their neighboring counties which suffer a 60% to 70% kill rate. New ordinances under the new director will increase the amount of animals being euthanized in 2013.
In February the citizenry of Douglas County, comprised of ex-employees and volunteers created an online petition to have Smith removed from his position. The petition has received thousands signatures to date. A candle light vigil was also held on the evening of March 20th, 2013 to remember the 30 animals euthanized between February 27th 2013 and March 5th 2013. Their main goal is to draw attention to what is happening at their shelter and expose those they hold responsible for it.
Since this recent outspokenness and demand for change, the county spokesperson has issued a rebuttal to the accusations. He advises the only animals being killed are those deemed sick, feral or too unsociable to be adopted. He also requests that Mr. Smith be given a chance to prove himself as he has only been in the position for 90 days.
However the citizens are not backing down and have been verbally involved in the recent Animal Control Advisory Board meetings. Their main complaint on the meetings is they are not allowed to speak their piece and air their grievances at such meetings. One person was reportedly removed from the board for being too outspoken against Rick Smith.
Until their voices are heard, the citizens of Douglas County will continue to fight for reform in their county Animal Control, not just for their own benefit but for the benefit of those that cannot speak for themselves. Hopefully their fight will set the stage for the rest of the nation to follow. It has been a long time in coming.
Concerned citizens of Douglas County, Georgia want their shelter to be the model shelter that leads the rest of the country away from the belief that death is the solution for handling pet overpopulation. The theory that it is necessary to kill healthy animals in order to make room for more healthy animals to meet their death is an endless, pointless cycle that needs to be totally eradicated.
They believe that every homeless animal deserves to be given a second chance to be adopted, and we agree with them.
About the Author
Denise Carey-Costa has been a lifelong advocate for animals. She has written numerous children`s books promoting kindness and compassion for all creatures and raising awareness for the plight of unwanted animals. Denise tours with her books to schools and libraries teaching the importance of spaying and neutering your pets, adopting a shelter pet and how to report animal cruelty. Visit Amazon.com and all other book retailers to see books written by Denise Carey-Costa.