Sunday, December 26, 2021

SAPD Needs More Help from Animal Services

Two large dogs wandered away from home Christmas morning.  One was friendly, the other seemed aggressive.  A Santa Rita family found them and tried to do the right thing before going to a family Christmas celebration.  They called the veterinary clinic listed on their collars and tried to track down the dogs' owner.  

A friend looked on the website.  There was no listing for the dogs.  They called San Angelo Police Department non-emergency number as one dog's aggressiveness concerned them..  

The officer drove to the address given by the vet clinic and learned the people living there did not own the two dogs.  The police officer called the on-call Animal Control Officer (ACO).  The ACO refused to assist.  

One reason for mandatory micro-chipping given to City Council was ACO officers would be able to scan a lost pet and take the animal home without a trip to the Animal Shelter.  That was before the city adopted Pets Alive, an initiative that chokes off shelter intake.

The family needed to leave their home and go to their Christmas gathering.  The police officer said he could do nothing more for them (or the dogs) and commented about the lack of service from Animal Services.  

Later that day a colleague found one of the dogs on the HelpMeGetHome Facebook page.  The information had not gone from the Facebook page to the website when they'd accessed earlier in the day.  

How is a member of the public to know the mechanics of HelpMeGetHome's new lost listings or if a missing pet has a microchip?  Those fall within the bailiwick of unavailable Animal Services. 

Recently, City Council learned of San Angelo's loose dog problem from citizens providing public comment.  I don't know if this family will offer public comment at an upcoming Council meeting.  Both parents work so they may not be able to attend to share their experience.

They do not have a City Council representative due to Lane Carter's resignation to run for Tom Green County Judge.  No service, no voice.  That applies to the dogs and this conscientious family.

Most people don't have an area to contain two large dogs, yet the City of San Angelo expects citizens to deal with the loose pet problem under Pets Alive.  When residents can't hold onto loose dogs, one potentially aggressive, the cycle continues.  

SAPD animal related calls are up over 35% since the shelter adopted Pets Alive.   Potential dog adopters find a shelter full of pit bull mixes.  That's a narrow niche from a product offering perspective. 

The way to "no-kill" is to spay/neuter and microchip everything, scan loose dogs and reunite them with their owners and trap dangerous dogs for the safety of the community.  That can take time and resources.  Choking off intake and shifting the burden to citizens is not a winning strategy.  It may look good to paper pushers, but citizens and loose pets are not being served.  

Update 11-4-22:   The Animal Shelter cut off dog intake for the month of November and is asking citizens who've found a stray dog:

"If staying out of traffic, leave pet in home neighborhood"

And how is a citizen to know the pet is in their home neighborhood?  That would require city staff to scan for a microchip.

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