Friday, December 15, 2023

Best Friends, Pets Alive Guided Shelter After Horrific Hoarding Conditions

Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) helped Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden in the aftermath of horrific hoarding conditions, as did American Pets Alive (AMPA).  City Manager Daniel Valenzuela that shelter operations needed to change and that "No Kill" was not working.

An October 4, 2022 e-mail from BFAS Senior Strategist-South Central Region Paula Powell stated:

I am aware of your situation in San Angelo and have a few ideas to run by you and Jenni. I talked with Clare at AMPA and Fraily from our Houston team and I think we can do a bit of an all hands on deck approach with your help. I do not think there is a need for an official assessment as you and Jenni are well versed in lifesaving programs. Can I set up a meeting with you, me, Jenni, AMPA and Fraily (he says he was in class with you at AMPA)

#2 are you interested in the Executive Leadership Certification for a Feb 5 start date? If so I can send you all the information again.

#3 I did email your CM with the El Paso CM phone number to hopefully have discussions of CM to CM on dealing with some of the issues you are dealing with. I do look forward to working with you and one thing I do know is that you will get through this difficult time. I do not say that to everyone but I do know with you there, things will be ok. We will help.

Morgan's reply on 10-7-22 included:

Paula, thanks for reaching out! Definitely still interested in ELC, just couldn’t make the Oklahoma travel work for last January.

Happy to meet with the group, I’m available most of Tuesday 10/11 and Friday 10/14. 

Appreciate y’all’s support

BFAS Paula Powell summarized the call in a 10-17-22 e-mail:

I wanted to take a minute to summarize our meeting last week and start putting some action items and dates together.

This is what I have so far and feel free to add and correct me if I misunderstood anything.

AMPA: Will work on pathway planning, transport and possibly behavior team support.
BF Houston: Will work on a medical assessment plan, foster recruitment & an adoption event
BF Regional: Intake diversion training and rescue relationships/incentive

Advocacy: Looking at the $13million and how we can get the City to allocate more to Animal Shelter.

Morgan has done a great job with this but supplementing would seal the deal.

I will be back next week and will set up a meeting to discuss more details on this plan. I am looking forward to all of us working together on this project.

On 11-1-22 City Council placed a hard cap on shelter occupancy.  The next day the shelter closed intake until the end of the month.

On 11-3-22 BF Paula Powell put in an application in for for the San Angelo Animal Shelter to get the same satellite foster program offer that BFAS did with Fix West Texas in Midland.

An 11-9-23 e-mail from BF Paula Powell stated:

As we prepare for "Operation San Angelo", I wanted to introduce you to another member of our Best Friends team, the amazing Carolyn Fitzgerald who will be scheduling the medical pieces and perhaps some work on the foster program. I will also be getting with you to do the Managed intake mentorship schedule. Exciting and happy to help San Angelo and hoping you all are well.
Morgan completed her application for Best Friend's Executive Leadership Certification on 11-17-22. The BF San Angelo Team meet via Microsoft Teams on 11-18-22.

BF Paula Powell wrote on 11-23-22:

Good morning San Angelo team,
Happy Thanksgiving. As we ramp up some programs for your shelters in the next few months, I wanted to introduce you to Melissa and Carrie who are the leads on the satellite foster program.
I think a meeting just on that program might be beneficial. I know we have some other folks involved in some additional pieces but getting foster programs ramped up during the holidays could be beneficial.
I am available all next week before I start traveling again if you need me for anything.

A BF Microsoft Teams meeting of the West Texas Coalition invite for 11-24-22 stated:

We are looking forward to doing some great work together this year! Hope you can make it and if you can't, sending a representative would be great so that we can include all. We are ramping up for some more Grants and wanted to discuss that with you as well as get prepared to show off all your work at Texas Unites.
The meeting was cancelled due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  On 12-2-22 BF Paula Powell informed Morgan she'd been accepted into the class.  

On 12-6-22 Morgan wrote BF Paula Powell:

Morning Paula! City management has approved a pilot program limiting canine intake while we research better policies/procedures. They’re very interested in feedback from the coordinated intake mentorship. What timeline are y’all thinking for that training opportunity?
Paula replied that early January would work and that she would be doing the training.

BF Carrie Lamonde had a challenge setting up a phone meeting regarding satellite foster pet program.  Morgan backed out as Jenie with Concho Valley PAWS handles shelter pet fostering.

Carrie proposed a Teams meeting in a 12-13-22 e-mail:

Paula nominated San Angelo for a Best Friends satellite kitten foster program.

Melissa and I can fill you in on what that would look like in regards to the type of support we can provide. After our last chat, it sounds like San Angelo could greatly benefit from a kitten foster program, primarily focused on neonates. This is a good time for us to start building the foundation on such program to be prepared for kitten season this spring. We look forward to discussing more with you all!

On 12-14-22 the City gave a shelter update for the first time since it shut off intake.  The shelter had too many pets and would remain closed to the public until the pet population declined.

Shelter partner Concho Valley PAWS stopped providing low cost spay/neuter vouchers to the public for December and January 2023.

The December BF West Texas Coalition meeting was postponed until after the New Year.  A different BFAS representative Leah Long conducted a three day visit in mid-February 2023.  That visit was delayed from late January due to icy road conditions.

Update 6-10-24:  BFAS shared funds with Concho Valley PAWS, the shelter's adoption coordinator.  Were any of those funds used on shelter animals?

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Best Friends Animal Society Partners with COSA Animal Shelter

One San Angelo City Councilperson expressed concern about Best Friends Animal Society, Pets Alive and their programming, which includes stringent intake diversion (not accepting loose pets) and foisting found strays on community members via "Human Animal Support Services."  The August 2023 interchange included:

Councilperson Hesse-Smith:  The concern is that some of these organizations are very much under fire across the nation and they are under fire because they promote programs and policies that have basically failed, multi-million-dollar lawsuits in some of these communities. 
Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden avoided the question long enough for Council members to move on.  The reality is Pets Alive and Best Friends Animal Society have been significantly involved in San Angelo's Animal Shelter for years.  

A Best Friends Regional Support Specialist visited the shelter early 2023 for a multi-day assessment (see image at the top of this post).  The Support Specialist needed the shelter's data for that visit which was postponed to mid-February due to icy road conditions.

The Animal Shelter has been part of Best Friends' West Texas Coalition since 2021.


Best Friends invited Morgan to participate in their Executive Leadership Certification through Southern Utah University and said they would cover tuition costs.

Shelter staff have helped Best Friends with their conference presentations.


I imagine the Best Friends presentation did not include the shelter threatening citizens wishing to drop off a stray pet with arrest for trespassing.  I doubt it included the many requests for an Animal Control Officer that were never fulfilled.

Last month a BFAS leader checked in with shelter leadership and once again asked for data.


City Council asks direct questions of shelter leadership and gets what in return?   City documents show a deep and lasting relationship between Best Friends Animal Society and the City Animal Shelter.

San Angelo's Animal Shelter is a Pets Alive, Best Friends shelter which often means no service and no support for tax paying citizens. 

Update 6-10-24:  BFAS shared funds with Concho Valley PAWS, the shelter's adoption coordinator.  Were any of those funds used on shelter animals?

Friday, December 08, 2023

Two Shelter Stories

Two stories ran on the City of San Angelo Animal Shelter, one from Best Friends Animal Society and other from the City's Public Information Department.  Both stressed city efforts to keep pets at home.  The city story noted Amelia's only living owner had to move to assisted living.  It's not clear if this gentleman called or visited the Animal Shelter, only to be turned down for assistance (like a number of local citizens since the shelter choked off intake).

Neither death, illness nor moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home are acceptable reasons to surrender a pet to the City of San Angelo Animal Shelter.  The move to managed intake occurred in 2019.

Keeping pets at home when there are no owners is not something to be proud of, however "creative" it may be.  

I wrote members of City Council in 2021:

Does the shelter know what citizens are doing with animals they can no longer owner surrender?  I hope citizens appear in person (before Council) to share their concerns about animal problems in their neighborhoods.  Choking off intake into the shelter via Pets Alive practices could have unwanted animals turned loose on city streets.

Again in 2022 I shared with Council members:

The public needs help for sure.  Regarding intake, when someone has a life event, like moving into assisted living or a nursing home the City of San Angelo Animal Shelter will not help.  If a pet owner dies, the city will not help.
Amelia's story should be a lament for the Animal Shelter.  It's not.  

Did we fail Amelia? Do we blame her people? I can’t think so.
Can't think.....that may sum it up.