Thursday, February 19, 2009

Surprising Details Omitted from New Shelter Planning

At last night’s Animal Advisory Commission meeting, city staff and their selected architects presented an update on the status of the new animal shelter. Based on the drawings in the presentation, it appears as though there are far fewer “adoption” kennels than “stray” kennels. This is a concern because pets in the “adoption” kennels are not frequently euthanized, while pets in the “stray” kennels are subject to euthanasia at any point. This demonstrates a priority for killing rather than saving. Despite talking about the “whimsy” designs planned for the walls and such, no mention whatsoever of the actual number of kennels was made during the presentation.

Citizen questions concerning the shelter design were not permitted, but the vice-chair of the commission asked how many “adoption” and how many “stray” kennels are planned? Shockingly, neither the architects nor the shelter manager knew the answer to that question. This not only demonstrates the continued misplaced focus of shelter management, but also conveys an apparent attempt to, once again, keep citizens in the dark or not “awakended” (to use chairperson Babette Ellis’ phrase) about multi-million dollar planned investments until it’s too late to consider citizen input.

Further, since no mention was made regarding the adoption center that is to remain at the current shelter site, the commission inquired about this too. City staff indicated they had no plans to spend any money on the adoption center and offered no explanation as to how they would or could outfit the current site for adoptions without spending any money. This came as a surprise, since we have long heard from staff how deplorable, dangerous and otherwise inadequate the current site is.

Confidence in current shelter management was lost long ago. We see no indication of a need to reconsider this conclusion. It is time to replace current shelter management with a progressive manager committed to implementing 21st century sheltering strategies.