Thursday, March 29, 2018

ASAC Didn't Meet in February Despite Expanded PAWS Deal and Serious Compliance Concerns

San Angelo's Animal Shelter Advisory Board did not meet in February due to lack of agenda items according to Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden.  I inquired about the cancellation in February and the City Manager's office said it was due to lack of a quorum.  These are two very different reasons.

A number of citizens wanted to make public comment in February on two items, the proposed expansion of PAWS contract with the city to include veterinary services and PAWS releasing animals from the shelter without rabies vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery.  Approximately 100 shelter animals missed their veterinary appointments for both services in 2017.  Several area rescues received former shelter pets that had not gotten a rabies vaccination or been altered.

For several citizens this was not the first cancellation of the Animal Services Advisory Committee during a time of public consternation.  It happened after packs of wild dogs killed numerous pets along Christoval Road and Animal Control exterminated Misty before rescues or her owner could intervene on her behalf.  I showed up to speak on gross/fraudulent misrepresentations made by Director James Flores in his community cat survey of other Texas cities but did not get that opportunity.

Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden represented to City Council that their were no rabies or spay/neuter compliance concerns on 1-23-18 when she spoke of a "trusted reconciliation process" and 2-20-18 when she cited "dozens of pet deaths prior to spay/neuter surgery."

“So the veterinarians report a missed appointment but we would not report a compliance issue.” -- Morgan Chegwidden to City Council on 2-20-18
When asked for information on the reconciliation and pet deaths prior to vaccinations/surgery the city said it did not have that information.  The digital reconciliation does not create a document and Morgan does not know how many pets died under PAWS adoption contract with the City.  How does Morgan represent to City Council that such data exists but none can be produced via a public information request?

The strategy appears to be avoid accountability by delay and obfuscation.  If staff throw enough stuff against the wall maybe something will stick.  Lack of quorum, splat.  Lack of agenda items, splurt.  Both led to lack of public input, one of the major aims of city boards and commissions.  Accountability isn't easy but it is important in local government. 

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