Friday, October 18, 2019

ASAC Plans to Give More Power to PAWS

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee approved an expanded scope of services in a Request for Proposal for Adoption Services.

1.  Support San Angelo Pets Alive! and become the city’s partner in such initiatives
2.  Adopt the lifesaving vision as set forth in American Pets Alive!
3.  Manage a population-based foster program
4.  Administer adoptions utilizing progressive adoption policies
5.  Coordinate large scale transfer and transport programs
6.  Host intake diversion counseling appointments for owners seeking to surrender their
pets to the shelter
7.  Support disease prevention protocols with routine medical treatment of animals in
8.  Offer emergency medical treatment for animals in residence
9.  Support the immediate make ready of adoptable pets by photographing and marketing
upon arrival
10.  Support targeted safety net programs for animals in need
11.  Offer appropriate capacity for large adult dogs with additional sheltering
12.  Support rescue transfer efforts from the city’s euthanasia list sharing
13.  Ensure compliance with state statutes governing shelter adoptions
Not mentioned is compliance with local ordinances which require mandatory spay/neuter and micro-chipping.   This was an issue a year ago in the run up to awarding PAWS its second adoption services contract.

PAWS and the City Animal Shelter have not been in compliance with city ordinances for quite some time.  Ordinances require animals to be spayed/neutered prior to being adopted. 

All animals adopted from the animal shelter shall be spayed or neutered and microchipped prior to release.  No animal shall be eligible for adoption unless spayed or neutered and microchipped.
The shelter adopts "ineligible animals" with an appointment to be fixed.

State law requires a rabies vaccination. When asked for compliance information with state law the city hid behind vendor PAWS.

Animal Services has provided an update that this (rabies certificate) is not a document of the city – an external vendor provides these services.
As a result of this past experience I asked the ASAC to add a requirement that the adoption services vendor provide information requested by the city which may include public information requests.  I shared my attempts to get basic compliance information and how staff put off some requests.

Assistant City Manager Michael Dane suggested a monthly report be generated that provides information in my example vs. adding a requirement the vendor provide information when compelled the city.  This suggestion came 22 months after I wrote:

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.
Michael Dane's suggestion handles that long-lingering case.  The City and PAWS had nearly two years to produce information in this regard and it chose not to do so.  Dane's compromise does not give the city a mechanism to compel the vendor to share information with staff or the public under an expanded scope of services.

A slide indicated changes from the current PAWS contracts for adoption and veterinary services
Scope of service changes include:
 • Spay/neuter and rabies vaccine expense paid by vendor
• Adoption fee collected by vendor
• Vendor sets their hours of operation
PAWS will get the revenue and be responsible for paying expenses, i.e. the city is delegating full fiduciary responsibility for adoption services.  What kind of due diligence will the city do in this area?  There is no requirement the vendor provide a financial audit or any financial information. 

Back to the meeting yesterday.  One ASAC member turned to PAWS Executive Director/ASAC board member Jenie Wilson and said, "You are going to bid on it again."  A motion was made to approve the RFP as presented.  PAWS Wilson seconded the motion, then said "Oh, I shouldn't do that."  Assistant City Manager Michael Dane coached the committee, saying it needed to give the appearance of an arm's length handling of the process.  Public Information Director Brian Groves was also in attendance at the meeting.

PAWS is building an adoption center next to the shelter on City owned land.  Requirement #11 will be met by that new facility.  There is no arm's length, just a big bear hug.

Wilson did get a dig in on area rescues just as the ASAC considered the new Adoption RFP.  Fortunately, those rescues provided information San Angelo Live missed (read comments).

Next Shelter/PAWS hug is due November 21, 2019 when animal services ordinances will be addressed.  I expect ordinance changes to be like Adoption RFP requirements that loosened each year to meet PAWS practices, not stated shelter requirements.  Will Jenie Wilson vote on ordinances she is charged with implementing as a city contractor?  Stay tuned.

Update 11-20-19:  After not finding an agenda on the city's website for the 11-21-19 special meeting I contacted the City Clerk.  She said there would not be a meeting that day and would check as to when the ASAC would address ordinance changes as originally planned.

Update 4-29-20:  The RFP has been posted on the City's purchasing page and it contains the expanded scope of services listed above.  It does not address spay/neuter services, adoption fees or the vendor setting their hours of operation.

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