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.

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