Tuesday, January 30, 2018

City Doesn't Have Rabies Shot Documentation for Shelter Adoptions

State law requires household pets to have a rabies vaccination.  The City of San Angelo Animal Shelter required pets be vaccinated for rabies prior to leaving the facility for calendar year in its original RFP for Adoption Services.

I submitted a Public Information Request  relative to the 913 dogs adopted from the shelter from 4-1-17 to 11-30-17.  I asked for copies of their rabies certificates.  The city responded today by saying:

Animal Services has provided an update that this is not a document of the city – an external vendor provides these services.
That's a poor answer for citizens expecting open and accountable government   Surely the City of San Angelo wishes to assure the community that all pets adopted from the shelter had their rabies vaccination, especially after the rabid skunk incident in PaulAnn.

It would seem the City could compel the vendor to provide such information given this provision in the contract:

PUBLIC RECORD: Provider understands that the public shall have access, at all reasonable times, to all documents and information pertaining to City contracts, subject to the provisions of Chapter 552, Texas Government Code, and agrees to allow access by City and the public to all documents subject to disclosure under applicable law. Provider’s failure or refusal to comply with the provisions of this section shall result in the immediate cancellation of this Agreement by City. 
The City has the power to audit the vendor, as well:

City may, at reasonable times, and for a period of not less than five (5) years following the date of final payment by City to Provider under this Agreement, audit, or cause to be audited, those books and records of Provider which are related to Primary Provider’s performance under this Agreement. 
A performance measure under the original RFP stated:

Ensuring rabies vaccination is given to animals prior to leaving the facility. 
It's clearly within the City's purview to obtain and share Shelter compliance statistics with the public.  It's odd they chose not to do so. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Compliance Data Missing for PAWS Renewal

San Angelo City Council will entertain renewal of the animal shelter adoption contract with Concho Valley PAWS.  Staff summarized the arrangement for Council:

Last year, the City of San Angelo sought a public-private partnership to share the workload of combating San Angelo's pet overpopulation epidemic. Assigning animal adoptions to an animal welfare organization frees up city staff and tax dollars to address our core function (preventing the spread of disease from animals to humans) and creates efficiencies by capitalizing on the welfare organization's core function (animal adoptions).
Unfortunately the PAWS arrangement started a new problem that contributes to the pet overpopulation epidemic.  The public-private partnership shifted responsibility for taking the shelter pet for spay/neuter surgery from city staff to the adopting citizen.  This practice resulted in 688 dogs leaving the shelter unaltered from April 1, 2017 to November 30, 2017.  That change is institutionalized in the City's RFP for adoption support.

At least two local veterinarians experienced high no-show rates for spay/neuter surgery.  City ordinance, mandates pets be micro-chipped and spayed/neutered.  One vet stated his clinic had 17 to 20 missed spay/neuter surgery appointments per month from June to December 2017.  Another veterinarian with a practice south of San Angelo stopped performing spay/neuter surgery for Animal Shelter pets due to an even higher no-show rate.  Between the two providers at least 100 pets missed spay/neuter appointments over a six month period.

City Council will entertain contract renewal without examining data on PAWS compliance with city ordinance and state law.  Texas law requires adopted pets to have a rabies vaccination.

Administration of the rabies vaccine changed from the 2016 RFP to the 2018 version.  In 2016 the City of San Angelo specified:

Ensuring rabies vaccination is given to animals prior to leaving the facility.
The city should have data on rabies vaccinations for animal shelter adoptions if the contractor met this performance specification. The 2018 RFP lessened this requirement:

Ensuring rabies vaccination is given to animals upon adoption
The two veterinary practices indicated they were giving rabies shots and performing spay/neuter surgeries for Animal Shelter pets in the same appointment.  Missed appointments mean the pet was not altered, as required by city ordinance, nor was it vaccinated, as required by state law. 

PAWS made a number of other commitments in its deal with the city.  It promised to provide two full time people for adoption support.  There is no information from city staff for council on PAWS compliance with this promise.

The only major change to this request for proposal is the proposal term. The prior contract of 12 months is not conducive to building a relationship of this importance.
It is odd for city staff to ignore serious performance failures while pushing City Council for a long term arrangement.  PAWS received scores of 93, 94 and 96 out of 100 on its RFP submission from the selection committee. 

Information on unaltered pets is pertinent to any PAWS contract renewal and has been shared with the Mayor and at least two City Council representatives.  Council is the accountable body as the PAWS proposal did not go before the Animal Services Advisory Committee.

For the last year the public-private partnership with PAWS contributed to the city's overpopulation problem by shifting transportation responsibility for spay/neuter surgery to the adopting citizen.  As a result of changed practices at least 100 pets left the shelter during the last half of 2017 and missed their surgery appointment.  How many of those remain unaltered and not vaccinated?

The City of San Angelo has a penalty for noncompliance with its mandatory spay/neuter ordinance:

All unaltered dogs and cats over four (4) months of age kept, harbored, or maintained within the City limits of San Angelo must be spayed/neutered or their owner shall obtain a breeder’s permit under this Chapter.
Unless otherwise specified herein, any person, firm, corporation or association convicted of violating any provision of this chapter shall be fined in accordance with the general penalty provision found in section 1.01.009 of this code. 
The animal services director shall be responsible for the enforcement of all of the provisions of this chapter.  

Should the city should fine itself and contractor PAWS for grossly violating its ordinance?


Video of 1-17-17 City Council approved initial PAWS adoption contract

Video of 1-23-18 City Council approved multi-year PAWS adoption contract

Update 1-27-18:  The City encouraged pet owners to stay current on rabies shots as a rabid skunk entered a home in PaulAnn.

Update 2-10-18:  Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden said all shelter pets are spayed/neutered in the morning news show Coffee Talk.  The same person has been unable to produce documentation from a "trusted process that ensures all shelter pets are spayed/neutered."  The reconciliation is done digitally and therefore no documents exist.  Yes, that was the city's actual answer.

Update 10-17-19:  City staff plan to expand its shelter contract with PAWS in both size and scope. I asked that the RFP and/or contract have a provision compelling the vendor to produce information requested by the city, which would include public information requests.  Compliance with city ordinance (spay/neuter and micro-chipping) and state law (rabies) information remains missing as the city prepares to enter into its third contract with PAWS.

Update 11-13-19:   Adopted pets continue leaving the shelter unaltered and many have ended up at area rescues when owners can no longer keep their new pet.  The Shelter will not take them back due to managed intake rules and limited/capacity.  Today, PAWS Director Jenie Wilson said "San Angelo still has a population crisis coupled with a population of irresponsible pet owners which makes it a constant struggle for the shelter and PAWS to prevent euthanasia for space.”

Update 11-8-21:  The ASAC agenda for October 2021 had a compliance report from Concho Valley PAWS on its spay/neuter compliance with city ordinances.   This is the first such report since the city engaged PAWS as its adoption contractor in early 2017.  Despite the City and PAWS having over half of ASAC membership they were not able to achieve a quorum in October.  

Friday, January 12, 2018

City Council Fills Occupied ASAC Seat

San Angelo's City Council approved the appointment of Health Services Director Sandra Villareal to the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee (ASAC) on December 12, 2017.  District 3's Harry Thomas made the appointment of Villareal, a city employee, to serve on a board intended to garner public input and provide public oversight.

Oddly, two days later the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee met with District 3
representative David Howard in attendance.  There was no mention of his resignation, no letter of resignation in the board packet or announcement made during the meeting.

The City's position on serving with its boards and commissions states:

The City of San Angelo offers a number of ways for its citizens to become actively involved in government business. In addition to the opportunity citizens have to express their thoughts at City Council meetings and public hearings, San Angelo citizens also may apply to serve on one of many boards and commissions (some restrictions apply). Unless otherwise stated, all vacancies are by appointment and approved by the City Council. 
The City's website gives the purpose for the ASAC:

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee makes recommendations regarding Animal Services policy to the City Council. 
It lists the following information regarding the Animal Services Advisory Committee:

Consists of seven residents appointed by the City Council: one licensed veterinarian; one member shall own, operate or otherwise be employed by or in a business related to the production, sale, distribution or care of animals or livestock; two members shall represent a nonprofit animal interest group or groups whose membership is comprised primarily of citizens of the city and whose primary interest is the health and welfare of animals; and, the remaining three members shall be residents of the city and need not have any other affiliation, membership or association.

Of the four people appointed by City Council on 12-12-17 only Sandra Villareal had no board application in the background packet.

Ms. Villareal was formerly over the City Animal Shelter.  She led an effort targeting the Mejor Que Nada community cat colony and joked with Public Information Officer Anthony Wilson via e-mail about shooting community cats.

Sandra recently fulfilled a longtime promise to former Shelter Director Robert Diaz by hiring him as an Environmental Health Inspector.  Diaz either oversaw a circle of horrors or the best Animal Shelter in Tom Green County.  The City employed two different narratives on the state of the shelter in June 2017.

City Manager Daniel Valenzuela can involve Sandra however he wishes in advising Bob Salas and Morgan Chegwidden on Animal Services Policy.  That's his management prerogative.

Surely there were members of the public interested in animal welfare that could have been appointed.  The City Animal Shelter has been insular and obstructive on a number of fronts, one of which has been the composition of the ASAC.  Many animal advocates have applied only to hear nothing from city staff.

City Councilman Harry Thomas' appointment of Ms. Villareal is a continuation of the "circle the wagons" approach the city employs at the Animal Shelter.  Thomas said three words when Villareal's nomination came up on December 12th.  "So moved" followed by "Aye." 

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Dogs Leaving City Animal Shelter Unaltered

A public information request to the City of San Angelo asked for information about dog adoptions over an eight month period.  It sought information on the shelter's compliance with city ordinances requiring pets to be altered (spayed/neutered) and microchipped.  It also sought data on the shelter's compliance with state law requiring rabies vaccinations.  The City's response stated:

"100% of dogs adopted have had their rabies vaccination.  100% of dogs adopted have been spayed/neutered or are scheduled for their surgery."
The city provided a thirty three page document with statistics on 913 dog adoptions.  The document did not indicate rabies or microchip status but it did show whether the pet was altered.  Only 225 of adopted dogs are shown as altered in the city report, while 688 dogs show a need for spay/neuter surgery.

These are the expectations of the adoption vendor per the December 15, 2017 Request for Proposal for Adoptions Services.

The post adoption phone caller could indicate in city records if the pet has been altered, if that is not already occurring. 

Area veterinarians have expressed concern about the high no show rate for Animal Shelter adoptions.  A 50% or greater no show rate makes it difficult for veterinarians to run their practice.  At times veterinary staff have experienced that level of missed spay/neuter appointments for pets originating from the Animal Shelter.

PAWS is the current adoption services contractor for the Animal Shelter.  It should be able to provide actual data as to how it has met city specified requirements, city ordinances and state law.  That would be important information to know as the City considers whether to continue contracting out adoption services or bringing the function back inside city operations.

Below is the three person committee that will review any RFPs submitted, as well as the oversight body that monitors adoption performance in regard to city specifications:

City Council will entertain the RFP for Adoption Services on January 23rd.  There should not be a rush to extend if questions arise regarding PAWS performance.

Update 2-2-18:  Mayor Brenda Gunter asked for statistics on missed spay/neuter appointments.  Morgan started off with calling this rare, then elevated it to occasional.  She said the city has a "tremendous trust in this process where there's a reconciliation.  We know who is outstanding for their surgery and who is not."  One might expect Morgan to have used data from this reconciliation to answer the Mayor's statistics question. 

Update 7-30-18:  Recent online comments assert Concho Valley PAWS ED Jenie Wilson contacted State of the Division with actual compliance information.  I've received no communications from Wilson as of this date.  Another assertion had Wilson share compliance statistics with City Council.  This can be verified by public information request.   

Saturday, January 06, 2018

MedHab Seeks Pre-orders for Fall Prevention/Alert Device

MedHab's MyNotifi hit the web on December 15, 2017.  A promotional piece states:

MyNotifi® is a one-of-a-kind medical alert wristband. They can keep living the active lifestyle they love. You can rest easy knowing you’ll be instantly notified if they ever need your help.
2018 is the year for MedHab to use the remaining $2.9 million in economic development funds, courtesy of the City of San Angelo Development Corporation.  Where will MyNotifi fit into the mix?

Update 2-22-18:  San Angelo's Standard Times ran a nice piece on MedHab's newest device on February 5th.  It casually mentioned StepRite's FDA approval, a key step in adding over 270 local jobs.  Oddly FDA approval wasn't newsworthy enough to make MedHab's website.  Apparently high tech rehab is yesterday's news for CEO Johnny Ross.  Our local paper was silent on the $2.9 million economic development agreement but mentioned Ross plans to "add up to 50 jobs."  The hot product is fall prevention/detection for seniors. I suspect many of us will become seniors waiting for MedHab to fulfill its lofty employment promises.  MedHab investor, board member and former City of San Angelo Mayor Alvin New is now a member of the Texas Transportation Commission.  MedHab inked a $3.6 million economic development deal while New served as Mayor.

Update 10-13-18:  LongIsland.com ran a story on MyNotifi which stated "MedHab is a San Angelo, Texas-based device manufacturer that specializes in remote, wearable technology. MyNotifi is their third product, following two innovative shoe insole devices – Steprite and RPM2 – that assist with physical therapy and gauging sports performance, respectively.

Update 4-7-19:   Medhab founder Johnny Ross told the Standard Times he hoped to hire 50 more employees by the end of 2018.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

City Looks to Re-Up PAWS Contract

Bidders interested in running animal adoptions for the City Animal Shelter will need to get their proposals into City Hall by 2:00 pm on Friday, January 5th.  State law requires all pets to have mandated vaccinations, like rabies.  City ordinance requires all pets be spayed/neutered and micro-chipped.  Any vendor would need to ensure pets adopted from the animal shelter are compliant with these legal mandates.