Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Seven Years of Spay/Neuter Ordinance

One local rescue did its part yesterday by taking 32 cats and one dog from the City of San Angelo Animal Shelter as it addresses a roach crisis.  CritterShack's Sharon Halfmann noted only three of 33 pets had been spayed/neutered.  A young cat needs surgery to amputate an injured leg and that will happen tomorrow.

Halfmann stressed to Neighborhood and Family Services Director Bob Salas the need for the Shelter to fix pets in their care and enforce the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance.  Salas said that would be a "long term strategy" and the city "did not want to push people on this issue."   

Those are odd things to say given Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden just informed the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee the cause of shelter overcrowding is due to puppies from unaltered dogs.  One Huskie had two prior Animal Shelter stays before delivering a litter in the shelter during her third stay.  The shelter had two months to spay the pregnant dog and did not.

Salas must have forgotten his seven year old position on mandatory spay/neuter, shared by partner Concho Valley PAWS.  PAWS is the shelter adoption coordinator and veterinary service provider.

February 2015 --  Bob Salas received City Council Proclamation on the Spay/Neuter Initiative Program (SNIP) collaboration with Concho Valley PAWS.  He stated:

"together we will be able to reduce the number of stray animals in our streets...  if you love your pet, get it spayed/neutered."
August/September 2015 --  City Council tackled mandatory spay/neuter ordinance.

"We can't adopt our way out.  We cannot kill our way out.  Spay/neuter is the answer"--Concho Valley PAWS Director Jenie Wilson's statement in public comment

This effort was combined with the City's hiring a veterinarian to conduct spay/neuter surgeries. 

October 2015 -- City Council approved the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance

February 2018 --The City awarded Concho Valley PAWS its veterinary service contract.

City Councilman Tommy Thompson asked if it would "get pets out of the shelter better, faster, more efficiously and get the capability to meet the guidelines we want as far as they are vaccinated and altered."  Morgan said it would.  She also stated "this is the solution to removing our pet overpopulation epidemic."

December 2019 -- City Council approved management's recommendation to donate its veterinary surgical equipment to Concho Valley PAWS.  

Morgan said PAWS "is hungry to take on this service" and highlighted the benefit of "services we can continue to provide our citizens locally for years to come."

Councilman Tommy Thompson made the motion for veterinary services equipment go to PAWS free of charge.  Morgan said PAWS could put that equipment to use immediately.  How many spay/neuter surgeries has Concho Valley PAWS conducted with donated equipment from the city?  

Seven years is a long time for the city to have made remarkably little progress in spaying/neutering shelter pets as required by city ordinance.  It's made worse by Animal Services taking a laissez-faire attitude toward enforcing the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance.


Bob Salas showed his memory problems regarding the city's Neighborhood Blitz.  It's expanded to SNIP.  One minute it's there, next it's gone.  

Conditions in the shelter are the worst area rescues have ever seen.  Local citizen Jillian Haddad posted pictures of the horrific conditions dogs are enduring on her Facebook page.  It looks like a bad hoarding situation.  Haddad communicated with city leadership about possible space options and is on a mission to improve shelter conditions.

Haddad spoke on behalf of the spay/neuter ordinance in 2015.  She shared how communities in Wisconsin drastically reduced shelter occupancy after ten years of mandatory spay/neuter ordinance.  San Angelo is at year seven of the ordinance but might as well be at year zero.

There's a need for strategic reorientation at the City Animal Shelter.  Let's hope City Council is paying attention.

Update 9-1-22:  CritterShack conducted a spay/neuter clinic today and fixed all 31 cats and the one dog rescued from the City of San Angelo Animal Shelter.  They also received recommended vaccinations and were tested for heartworms (dog), leukemia and FIV (cats), micro-chipped and have a clean safe place to live.

Update 9-2-22:  The City posted an update on the roach treatment on its News page.  The young cat with the leg injury is doing well after its amputation surgery.   Concho Valley PAWS is responsible for the veterinary care for shelter pets and has contracted more than once with the city for spay/neuter services.  CritterShack's vets did in a day what PAWS has been unable to do for as long as those 33 animals have been in the City Animal Shelter. 

Update 9-8-22:  San Angelo Live published the photos showing horrific, hoarding conditions at the Animal Shelter.  They normally run PAWS press releases free of charge.  The Animal Shelter relies on PAWS to be its public face. 

Update 9-9-22:  An October 2021 compliance report from PAWS stated under the pet transfers section:

These communities are long standing no-kill communities where spay and neuter practices have successfully reduced the population of shelter pets.
Year seven should be close to longstanding but it feels like we've gone backwards in the spay/neuter arena.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

City Addressing Shelter Cockroach Infestation

The City of San Angelo's plans to treat a cockroach outbreak at the Animal Shelter are underway.  The cockroaches pictured in this post are from the back entrance hallway on the north side of Animal Shelter.

The roaches are German cockroaches according to the city's pest exterminator MDK Services.  Entomology at The University of Kentucky describes this type of cockroach:

German Cockroach (Blattella germanica)  This is by far the most common cockroach infesting homes and buildings. The pest thrives in the presence of humans but does not occur outdoors. Adults are light brown and about 1/2 inch long, with two dark stripes running lengthwise along the shield-like area behind the head. The nymphs are smaller and darker with a tan stripe down the middle of the back. German cockroaches reproduce very rapidly, which is one reason why controlling these pests can be difficult. A single mated female can produce thousands of new cockroaches in less than a year.   

German cockroaches require warmth, moisture, and food, which is why they are most common in kitchens and bathrooms. Preferred hiding places include cracks and crevices under sinks and toilets; beneath/behind refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves; near trash containers; and inside cabinets and pantries. German cockroaches also congregate in clocks, toaster ovens, and other heat-producing electronic equipment. When populations are large or food is scarce, they can be found in bedrooms, closets, and other areas of the home. German roaches spend most of their time hidden in cracks and crevices, but can be quite mobile. They often travel between rooms or adjoining apartments via walls, ceilings, pipes, wires and other openings.

After extermination the city plans to have the shelter professionally cleaned.  It is exploring this possibility with Serv-Pro.  

The City plans to move 86 dogs and 49 cats to a temporary location.  The Red Barn at the Fairgrounds was mentioned as a possible site to keep shelter animals in new kennels/crates.  The vendor is scheduled to deliver those kennels to the 4H area today.  City maintenance and shelter staff will assemble those and move them to the decided location.  

The tentative schedule is below:

The city committed to inform the public of its plans.  

The City will update the public once dates have been finalized for the temporary closure of the shelter.

Stay tuned to the city's website for official information on their progress treating the roach outbreak..

Update 8-31-22:  The City chose to update the public via Facebook and Twitter, not on the News portion of its website:

The shelter will use the 4H building to house 67 dogs and 17 cats as the community has responded to this crisis situation.

 Better yet, volunteer for the local animal rescue of your choice.

Note:  The information for this post came from the City of San Angelo via a public information request.  Update images came from the city's Facebook page. 

Update 9-2-22:  The City is back to posting updates on its News page.  

"The shelter will continue to be treated for pests moving forward to ensure this roach problem does not resurface."

I'd prefer the city add a commitment to keep the shelter sanitary and not have what looks like bad hoarding conditions. 

Update 9-6-22:  PAWS returned the favor and defended the horrific conditions at the shelter while taking a swipe at people with legitimate concerns about the shelter choking off intake, releasing unaltered pets from the shelter, housing unadoptable animals for years while not fixing them and not writing citations for people who repeatedly ignore the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance.  

PAWS went on the ding the city for "inadequate staffing and staff wages claiming the people responsible for animal care and welfare are making less than what they could make if they went to work for any fast-food restaurant in San Angelo." 

Update 9-8-22:  San Angelo Live published the photos showing horrific, hoarding conditions at the Animal Shelter.  They normally run PAWS press releases free of charge.  The Animal Shelter relies on PAWS to be its public face.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Shelter Tightens Intake Chokehold

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee (ASAC) met last Thursday and members learned 64 cats died or were euthanized in May due to an illness outbreak at the city shelter.  85 more cats died in June, some from the same Feline Panleukopenia outbreak.  Panleukopenia is a preventable illness if cats are vaccinated.  No one asked about if the shelter provides such vaccinations through their agreement with Concho Valley PAWS.

Dog intake is up by 200 and puppy intake is up 30% from last year.  "We are so overrun with puppies," stated Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden.  She noted puppies and unwanted litters are a major factor contributing to the Shelter's current and ongoing space crisis.  This occurred even with PAWS housing 128 pets in their building next to the shelter.

The City enacted a mandatory spay-neuter ordinance in October 2015.  It rarely enforced the ordinance over the last four years.


The Shelter's inaction on enforcing the city's mandatory spay-neuter ordinance helped create today's overcrowding situation.  In 2022 the shelter has averaged one citation per animal services officer per month for citizen noncompliance.  That's four per month.

Pets Alive and the City want to provide even less service by asking residents who find a lost pet to hold on to that animal for 48 hours before contacting the shelter.  This places the citizen in a precarious position as shelter staff use the "72 hour possession" as an excuse to not help, saying the animal is "now your pet."  It matters not whether the shelter was open or closed during that 72 hour period.  

Most citizens do not have a microchip scanner or the ability to get information from the microchip company.  Animal Services Officers staff have the ability to can scan for a chip and call the chip company for owner contact information.  The only veterinarian who assisted the community with micro-chipping information ceased that service earlier this year. 

Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden told the ASAC they "respond to a loose, stray dog every time."  That is false.  There are numerous instances where the shelter did not respond to a request from area employers or SAPD dealing with loose dogs.  In Spring 2021 I wrote Mayor Gunter:

This month one of San Angelo's longtime, major employers tried to get assistance from the Animal Shelter for loose dogs on their property and was refused twice.  City contractor PAWS refused to help as well. 

Pets Alive model works when citizens and the shelter do the upstream work to prevent unwanted litters of puppies and kittens.  It does not work when it is used to artificially choke off intake.  It fails miserably when unaltered animals repeatedly cycle through the shelter until they become pregnant and deliver in the shelter after being there two months.

Morgan spoke of their robust community cat program but a friend in Santa Rita called for help regarding a feral cat in their backyard and was told the shelter did not provide that service.  As of June the shelter had not spent any of the $5,000 City Council gave for addressing problem cats.

The August Animal Services Advisory Committee meeting had its usual surprises and service promises not backed up by citizen experience. Four years of choked off intake resulted in many citizens abandoning unwanted dogs in the community.  The local employer and SAPD cases mentioned earlier ended with those dogs continuing to roam unsupervised.  Citizen failure to fix their pets and the city's to enforce its spay-neuter ordinance resulted in many unwanted puppies and kittens.  Unaltered, abandoned pets is not the goal of Pets Alive but it is their product in our community.

Update 8-26-22:  The Shelter will close soon to address a roach infestation and is asking for assistance from the public in sheltering the occupants while the treatment occurs.  Why was this concern not mentioned at the ASAC meeting last week?  

Update 8-30-22:  "The City will update the public once dates have been finalized for the temporary closure of the shelter."  No word yet on those dates.

Update 9-23-22:  San Angelo Live reported the impact of Pets Alive choking off shelter intake and not prioritizing spay/neuter services:

Valenzuela said the number of pets abandoned inside the city limits has greatly increased over the past year.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

City Goes Light on Spay/Neuter Citations

The City of San Angelo passed a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance for pets in October 2015.  Nearly seven years later the Animal Shelter is chronically overcrowded, even after the addition of a PAWS adoption center and kennels next door.

In early June the Animal Shelter issued a plea to the public after three dogs gave birth producing 20 puppies in an already full shelter.  One of the mothers had been in the shelter twice before and released unaltered.  She had been in the shelter two months, plenty of time for a spay to have been conducted.  City Council awarded PAWS its veterinary surgical equipment in December 2019 for such a purpose.

Flashback to August 2015 when staff began floating the idea of a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance

If Animal Control Services picks up an animal over 4 months old, and that animal is not spayed or neutered, the repercussions will be a citation. Not to mention, the Shelter would spay, neuter and microchip the animal at the owner’s expense. The only exceptions to this ordinance would include people who breed with a current license and microchip, people who need their animals for medical reasons, people who compete their animals professionally, and those people who use animals for specialty reasons, including law enforcement.

“Of course we would need to allow time for citizens to get ready for the ordinance, which would be 6 months.” 

Animal Services is under Neighborhood and Family Services while includes Code Enforcement.  The City has four Animal Services Officers and four Code Enforcement Officers.  Between them they average just over 4 failure to spay/neuter citations per month.  That's less than 1 per ASO/CEO.  That seems rather sparse for a city with an abundance of irresponsible pet owners.

Update 8-22-22:  Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden was on KLST News last night talking about the Animal Shelter's increase in the number of dogs entering the shelter.  She said there has been a 10% increase relative to last year.  The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee met last Thursday and one agenda item was further restricting intake from city residents trying to do the right thing after finding a lost dog.

Update 8-25-22:  Morgan told the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee the dog increase is mainly due to puppies.

Update 10-7-22:  Yesterday the city issued a press release which stated:

Effective Aug. 16, 2022, citizens who have failed to prove compliance for spaying or neutering their pets have received citations through a newly approved process that allows violations to be issued by mail rather than in person. This has replaced the shelter’s practice of allowing a 10-day grace period to collect proof of compliance for those in violation. 

This newly approved process did not go through City Council or the Animal Services Advisory Committee.

Update 10-11-23:  In an 8-29-23 budget meeting City Council asked about the special citation effort for failure to spay/neuter a shelter pet.  Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden referred to a "data driven" approach but provided no statistics in the Council meeting.  A public information request indicated staff provided no data to Council members after the meeting.

The City of San Angelo has reviewed its files and has determined there are no responsive documents to your request.