Monday, February 12, 2018

Proclaim Public Compliance Data on Spay/Neuter


City Council proclaimed February Spay/Neuter Awareness Month in its February 6th meeting.  Elements of the proclamation included:


Despite the declaration San Angelo's Animal Shelter changed processes which harmed the compliance rate for spaying/neutering shelter pets.  Shelter data from 4-1-17 to 11-30-17 revealed 688 dogs were unaltered and needed spay/neuter surgery by area veterinarians.  Two veterinarians cited numerous missed appointments for City adoptions, such that 100 pets missed their initial spay/neuter surgery and rabies vaccination.

Mayor Brenda Gunther asked for statistics on missed spay-neuter appointments and received a number of answers.  Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden started off with "rare", said she might need to defer to PAWS, upped it to "occasional" and then referenced a trusted process with reconciliation on who needs to be fixed and who does not.  The Mayor did not get any statistics in response to her question.

The City does not have information to share from the trusted reconciliation process Chegwidden cited before City Council.  When asked to produce such information the city replied:

In accordance with the Public Information Act of the State of Texas, Animal Services has response that they do not have a record of the requested information.  The reconciliation process does not create a document.
Eight months of Animal Shelter 2017 data showed 75% of 988 dogs adopted left the facility unaltered.  Direct information from area Veterinarians and their staff produced the 100 dogs with missed appointments number.  That doesn't sound like a reconciliation process that one can do in their head. 

The question is what happened to those 100 dogs?  Did they go on to get another appointment, one the pet owner honored?  Did they die as implied by Morgan before City Council?  Did they not get spayed/neutered and are contributing to the animal overpopulation problem plaguing our city?

These questions remain unanswered despite efforts to obtain data/information from city staff.  I expect the city to ensure shelter compliance with State Law (Rabies) and City Ordinance (Spay/neuter) as part of any contract.  When asked for copies of rabies certificates for dogs adopted between 4-1-17 and 11-30-17 the city replied:

Animal Services has provided an update that this (rabies certificate) is not a document of the city – an external vendor provides these services.
This answer is odd given the RFP required pets get their rabies shot in the Shelter prior to adoption.  That would imply the shot record is the city's, especially as the agreement is silent on the matter of records, who keeps what and how those are maintained.

It'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's disappointing the City is being so opaque on such a basic performance standard, Animal Shelter compliance with the law.

Update 2-16-18:  City Council will review Animal Control ordinances on 2-20-18.  Information in their background packet shows the following ordinance:  "All animals adopted from the animal shelter shall be spayed or neutered and microchipped prior to release."  Council failed to put to bed the issue of unvaccinated and unaltered pets leaving the City Animal Shelter in 2017.  Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden defended the practice in the 1-23-18 City Council meeting. 

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