animal control honesty and transparency
in Maddie's Fund August newsletter:
Honesty and Transparency in Animal Control:
A Formula for Lifesaving
by Tara Derby, Chief Executive Officer,
Philadephia Animal Care and Control Association
[Excerpts - as always, read the entire article.]
A Formula for Success
While there are effective shelter directors that are dedicated to being honest and transparent, it is unfortunate that many in our industry still believe in the efficacy of "half-truths." Historically, animal sheltering professionals have been very successful at "shielding" the public from euthanasia. In fact, there are many shelters that pride themselves on the fact that they are always able to offer the public "hope of adoption." But what hope of adoption truly exists in a shelter that saves less than 50%, 40% or 30% of its animals? How likely is it that the litter of kittens surrendered in the middle of August will make it out of the shelter alive? The bottom line is that withholding the truth, making promises that cannot or will not be met, or simply lying does no one any good. It is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Eventually, the truth will be exposed, and a shelter that has been less than forthright will be perceived as incompetent, uncaring and cruel by the majority of the citizens in any community across the nation. Killing animals unnecessarily is something the public will not tolerate. Killing animals and not telling the truth about it will also not be tolerated by any community, in anywhere USA.
In order to gain community support for animal control agencies and departments, the formula for success, in terms of the big picture or the "bottom line" is simple and features a two-pronged approach:
Embrace and employ a lifesaving philosophy and programs for your agency, and establish accountability standards by which to measure your lifesaving progress.
Tell your story to the community, no matter how good or how bad your progress is. If you are doing most of the killing in your community, you should be the loudest voice in the choir.
As leaders in animal control, as leaders at any animal shelter, our job is to protect the enterprise. In animal control, this means providing public health and safety services for the citizens of our cities and towns, AND providing compassionate lifesaving services for the animals under our care. In this modern day and age, these are the fundamental components of animal control. Even if the contracting municipality or the administration refuses to pay for lifesaving endeavors, I believe we must be dedicated to implementing lifesaving programs and fighting for them because they are what the community wants, and most importantly, they are what the animals deserve. .....
..... By December 2005, PACCA achieved a 100% pre-release sterilization policy for adopted animals. We did what some would say is impossible within an 8-month period. My response is that it is nowhere near impossible to achieve this goal. First, animal control shelters have to decide it is not only a worthy goal, but a goal that must be upheld as a mandatory best practice by all those involved in the animal care and animal sheltering community.
Getting there was not easy, but how we did it was—on my first day at work, we made a commitment to achieve 100% pre-release sterilization for adopted animals. Period. There was no discussion, no explanation, and no justification as to why we wouldn't be able to achieve this goal. We simply had to do it and there was no other alternative if we were truly invested in saving lives.
Every decision made from then on—from the staff we hired, to the supplies we purchased--was couched within the context of the importance of our reaching this goal.