Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Animal Shelter Overloaded

The shelter will euthanize 16 dogs if they are not adopted by 3 pm on Saturday, February 3rd.  San Angelo Live ran a piece on this but no information exists on the City's news feed, nor is it on the Animal Services webpage.  

Live's piece refers interested adopters to "contact Jen at as soon as possible."

Concho Valley PAWS Facebook page has a post on the euthanasia list.

PAWS hours of operation include Tuesday noon to 6 pm (according to Google).  This expansion happened in the last few months.  PAWS website still shows Wednesday through Saturday hours.

Prior shelter overloads have been driven by puppies.  PAWS Facebook page shows cute puppy after cute puppy.

This takes us back to October 2015 when City Council adopted a mandatory spay-neuter ordinance and staff promised it would mean fewer animals on the street.

City Council meets again on Tuesday, February 6th.  In their last meeting Councilman Harry Thomas noted "there are more dogs on the street than ever."

Update:  Concho Valley Homepage ran a story on the latest overcrowding.  The City informed the public via Facebook at 11:04 this morning.

The Animal Shelter webpage also has a section for events.  It is below:

There is nothing about the shelter being overcapacity or a Saturday deadline.

Update 2-4-24:  All sixteen dogs were adopted or fostered according to PAWS Facebook page..  

Saturday, January 27, 2024

"More Dogs on the Street than Ever"

City Councilman Harry Thomas noted "there are more dogs on the streets than there's ever been" during the January 16th Council meeting.

Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden update Council on national vs. local trends in animal services.

Nationally, shelters took on more pets.  Locally it was less.  City Council did not seem concerned that any increases in need were borne by the community, not the Animal Shelter.

Adoptions fell 1% nationally but were down nearly 50% locally.  

Chegwidden reported that 35 dogs were dumped at the shelter over the last quarter.

Public safety decreased locally with animal to people bites up 56%.  Local veterinarians report increased dog on dog attacks.  

San Angelo's legions of loose dogs should remain given the Animal Shelter's policies.  The shelter is not a resource for citizens needing to surrender their pet.  "Moving to assisted living" is not a reason for the shelter to accept a pet under managed intake.

There is no strategy to ensure "community sheltered" pets are spayed/neutered or microchipped.  City staff promised Council at the adoption of the spay/neuter ordinance:

The Councilman's "more dogs on the street than ever" comment indicates Mr. Salas and the city have missed their mark.  

Changes have been driven by Pets Alive and Best Friends Animal Society.  Both groups prioritize "life saving" care for pets inside shelters.  Their models do not prioritize mandatory spay/neuter, a local city ordinance.  City statistics indicated the shelter is occupied by large dogs, mostly Pit mixes, and those dogs have resided in the shelter for a long time.  

In November 2022 City Council approved a hard maximum capacity for the Animal Shelter.  That meant more pets would be "sheltered" in the community.  

Loose, unaltered dogs create problems, which impact public safety.  Councilman Tom Thompson indicated his wife had been bitten by an unrestrained, uncontained dog in the January 16th meeting.

City Council held a Strategic Planning session yesterday where public safety received significant attention.  The Animal Shelter got no mention but Council cited "public feedback" several times.

Citizens need to contact City Council representatives with concerns about animal issues.  It's the only way elected officials can get an accurate picture of how Animal Services is serving or not serving the community.  Staff has a less than stellar track record in that regard.

Update:  The slide below shows Pets Alive's expectations for San Angelo.  

Staff got there, only a year later than predicted.  Choking off intake filled our streets.

Update 1-31-24:  The City will hold a public meeting on streets tomorrow evening from 5:30 to 6:30 pm.  Contrast this with the requested meeting after the August 2023 strategic planning meeting when the public learned about dog attacks and the well attended October 2023 ASAC meeting (which was cancelled due to lack of quorum when a quorum actually existed).  

The public asked for a Town Hall type meeting on the Animal Shelter and remains puzzled by the City's failure to fulfill this basic wish.

The shelter will euthanize 16 dogs if they are not adopted by Saturday, February 3rd.  City Council meets again on Tuesday, February 6th.  San Angelo Live ran a piece on this but no information exists on the City's news feed, nor is it on the Animal Services webpageLive's piece refers interested adopters to "contact Jen at as soon as possible."  

Update 2-3-24:  The public meeting on streets is not on the city's YouTube channel.  The city's press release said it would be livestreamed.   There is no livestream or edited recording to view.

Update 2-14-24:  The public meeting on streets video is on the city's YouTube site.  The audience was four citizens.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

KSAN Back on DISH After Year Absence

It took over a year for KSAN's Mission Broadcasting to allow DISH Network to show its programming.  The two parties removed KSAN on January 6, 2023.  Both DISH and Mission blamed each other.  KSAN returned the evening of January 22, 2024.

Television stations sell ads and their most profitable years have been those with Presidential elections.  I imagine that was the driving force behind the agreement.   Can I get the channel back without political ads?

Monday, January 22, 2024

October ASAC Non-Meeting Had a Quorum

Information received from the City of San Angelo indicates a quorum was present on October 19, 2023 as three of the five standing members of the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee were in attendance.  A majority existed on 10-19, even with the absence of the committee's Chair and Vice Chair.

Sgt. Chris Carpenter's resignation was effective after the 8-17-23 ASAC meeting according to city records.  That means only three people in attendance would be a majority, i.e constitute a quorum.  That's the number of ASAC members on 10-19-23, however city staff indicated a quorum was lacking and did not hold the meeting.

Staff did so with a packed room of citizens wishing to offer public comment on the agenda, which had an item regarding the city's significant loose dog problem.  The public was not aware that Sgt. Carpenter had resigned.  It's likely the City Attorney in attendance had not been informed that Carpenter had stepped down.

City Council discussed shelter concerns in their last meeting and set an expectation that Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden would hold at least one Open House for community members to attend and share their concerns.  I'm pretty sure Morgan does not want to hear them.  How many others in city administration feel likewise?

(The image above came from the January 2024 ASAC meeting and illustrates committee composition in October 2023.)

Update 1-24-25:  Chegwidden referred to the "vacancy" created by his resignation in a message to Carpenter on 10-16-23.  That was three days prior to the scheduled 10-19-23 ASAC meeting.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

City Council to Hear Animal Services Challenges

San Angelo's City Council will take up Animal Services in Item E of the Regular Agenda in its upcoming meeting.  The agenda states:

Discussion and review on Animal Services and challenges faced by San Angelo and other cities throughout the state/country (Presentation made by Neighborhood and Family Services Assistant Director Morgan Chegwidden)

City Council may wish to revisit their August 2023 budget session which provided special focus on disturbing events involving loose and aggressive dogs.  Shelter Chief Chegwidden contacted Best Friends Animal Society for assistance the day before the meeting.  The content of her e-mail is below:

Hello (Best) Friends,

I’m fulfilling my ELC promise to ask for help, to be brief:

Certain San Angeloans are speaking out about dogs that Animal Services has been “slow” to respond to. We’ve got call history with prompt response. In short - a resident owned an adult male and female, bred one litter of 8 pups with the intention to sell, pups are now 6 months old and frequently loose killing cats and a small breed dog. Sunday the 8 pups attacked a large breed dog, who received prompt medical care with a favorable prognosis.

Bigger picture, these citizens are speaking against community supported sheltering - the single best resource saving us while (constantly) at capacity. I’m clarifying with management and elected officials - lifesaving programming is never intended to leave dangerous, reactive, or bite dogs in the community. “Leave them be” works for adult, street-wise dogs that are likely less than a mile from their home. These 8 pups warrant a shelter intake when owner fails to take responsible action.

I’m expecting public comment calling for the end of community supported sheltering/all lifesaving programming at City Council - potentially 8/29/23 workshop or 9/7/23 meeting. Any stats, case studies, language that you can recommend to continue pursuing life first for each animal we serve is appreciated.

You can view the show at our YouTube channel:

Appreciate y’all!

Morgan Chegwidden

Council may wish to consider that its Animal Shelter Advisory Committee failed to achieve a quorum in October with the three missing members the Chair, Vice Chair and a city employee who'd resigned and been told not to attend by staff liaison and committee member Morgan Chegwidden.

City ordinances require the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee to meet three times a year.  It failed to meet this requirement in 2023.  

Council may wish to consider the October Fox West Texas story on the failed ASAC meeting.  It stated:

Several attendees of the event expressed a strong desire to reschedule as soon as possible.  

“It’s something that the team will certainly consider and try to get on the schedule pretty quickly,” Chegwidden said.

That meeting was never rescheduled.  "The Team" decided by November 14, 2023 to not hold another ASAC meeting and wait until January 2024.  The team's decision was never shared with the public.

The team had their hand's full with a panleukopenia outbreak in the cat colony behind the Animal Shelter.  This development was shared with Best Friends but once again, not the public.  

City Council may wish to consider the ASAC's two vacancies, even as they reappoint PAWS Jen Murphy to a third two year term.

Council approved borrowing $2 million eleven months ago for urgent shelter updates.  Construction financing would have the project finished in August 2023.  It has not yet been bid.

Context is important.  Council may wish to consider Chegwidden referred to their budget session as "the show" to Best Friends staff.  For many San Angeloans the Animal Shelter has turned its back on the people it is there to serve.

The City Council background packet has the following information:


National challenges are largely related to domestic canines, as cat programming serves that species well. Previously, "easy to move" categories, such as purebreds and puppies, languished in both public and private shelters, creating a bottleneck with increased lengths of stay. American shelters are carrying 245,000 more animals this year than last year. One shelter reports the average length of stay increased from 15-18 days to 28-30 days. With an average intake increase of 5% and adoptions down by 1.2%, many shelters are making space-based euthanasia decisions for the first time in years. 

San Angelo faces some of the same challenges with decreased adoptions/transfers (32% fewer than the prior year). Pressures on owners such as economic (inflation for dog food is 16% more than last year), restrictive housing (prohibited size, breed), managed owner surrenders to animal services, and policy restricting capacity contribute to more dogs at large and more dogs being abandoned at the shelter (34 last quarter). Local ordinances set an optimal standard for pet ownership, but families are not operating in ideal circumstances and need resources to house dogs. 

For fiscal year 2022-23, Animal Services impounded 2,901 animals (28% less than the prior year), 1,491 of which were dogs (38% less than the prior year) but walk-in traffic, workload, and demands for service maintained. 49.8% of all animals were adopted or transferred (or 1,476 animals - 32% fewer than the prior year), 40.9% were returned to owner or wildlife released (or 1,213 animals - 10% fewer than the prior year) and 9.3% were euthanized or died in custody (or 275 animals). Deaths decreased 55% from 614 to 275 animals. 90.7% of animals were released alive, but the climate wasn't celebratory. 

An increased need for field services was identified and communicated for funding. Animal Services Officers responded to 6,111 cases in FY23 and investigated 264 animal-to-person bites, up 56% from the prior year. Additionally, staffing is needed to manage this workload and prevent further increases. 

Funding facility improvements ensures continued efforts, but shortfalls have been identified, including (1)preparing a temporary facility to house displaced animals and (2) staffing animal care at two locations. Although originally planned to proceed in November 2023, complex engineering needs prompted a new timeline to break ground this summer. 

Funding Source(s): 

Financial Impact: 

Other Information/Recommendation: Staff recommends a three-prong approach to support these challenges. 

1. Adopt legislation encouraging pet-friendly housing. Landlords should lift breed and weight restrictions, allowing families to stay together, decreasing owners re-homing their pets, and preventing households from releasing their pets to the neighborhood at large. 

2. Incentivize community support to increase local adoptions, particularly marketing to young adults. 

3. Funding (1) additional animal services officers, (2) four part-time temporary shelter workers during construction project, (3) preparation of temporary animal housing, and (4) free microchips to residents of target neighborhoods. 



Note the background packet includes data for adoptions/transfers.  Shelter adoptions for FY 2022 were 1,144 cats/dogs.  Adoptions for FY 2023 fell to 586 cat/dog adoptions.  That's a 49% drop for a service provided by contractor Concho Valley PAWS.

StateoftheDivision has many posts with city provided data on the number of unaltered dogs released from the shelter, the predictable consequences of choking off shelter intake (which resulted in more loose dogs, many unaltered), and the terrible predicament pet owners are put into when moving into assisted living or a nursing home (not an acceptable reason for the shelter to assist).

San Angelo's Animal Shelter is a Pets Alive, Best Friends shelter which often means no service and no support for tax paying citizens.  City Council has allowed, even encouraged these developments.  

City staff will likely gloss over community problems created by Animal Services in citing national data and other shelter experiences.  What's missing is feedback from San Angelo citizens and dedicated local animal rescues.  

Most rescues have washed their hands of the city and its low performing shelter (in actually serving people).  I will be surprised if anyone turns up on Tuesday in the bitter cold.  The morning low is expected to be 7 degrees.

The topic is the fifth item on the Regular Agenda.  Who will wait patiently in the audience for their turn to speak for three minutes?  The Youtube "show" will reveal the answer.

Update:  The ASAC agenda for January 18th mirrors the City Council item.   

Discussion and review on Animal Services and challenges faced by San Angelo and other cities throughout the state/country (Presentation made by Neighborhood and Family Services Assistant Director Morgan Chegwidden)
Council will have met and "provided direction."  Community input?  Definitely not wanted.

City Council will hold a Strategic Planning Session on January 26th.  Animal Services deserves a dedicated planning session.  I encouraged Council to do just that in 2021.

Update 1-16-24:  City Council heard from Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden and three representatives from Concho Valley PAWS, the groups that instituted changes from 2019 to today that choked off shelter intake.  In public comment at the beginning of the Council meeting a citizen said "I moved here two years ago and I have never witnessed an animal crisis like I've witnessed here."

Citizens wishing to give public comment on the Animal Services item on the Regular Agenda had to wait until nearly noon to do so.  Anyone there before 8:30 am would have waited three and a half hours for three minutes of comment time.  

Council expressed their desire for public town hall meetings on the animal situation and asked staff to work up specific proposals for improving our third world loose pet problem.  

At the end of the meeting Council approved PAWS staffer Jen Murphy for another stint on the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee.  Under future agenda items Councilman Tom Thompson indicated his wife had been bitten by a dog.  Council person Karen Hesse-Smith asked about following up with Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden about planning the suggested town hall meetings.  

Update 1-17-24:  Shelter Chief Morgan admitted to Council that changes at the Animal Shelter "led to pet owners dumping their animals at the Animal Shelter or letting them loose."  This was predictable.  

Update 1-22-24:  San Angelo Live may have well run an Animal Shelter press release in its piece on the recent City Council discussion.  Live missed the extreme juxtaposition between national and local statistics, i.e. shelters elsewhere are doing more while for most statistics San Angelo's shelter did far less.  It also failed to report Council's desire for a town hall meeting on the Shelter.

Live's Joe Hyde said his publication does not do investigative reporting as it is too expensive.  That may explain why Live tends to be a mouthpiece for Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden and contractor Concho Valley PAWS.

Update 1-25-24:  The City will hold a public meeting at the McNease Convention Center on February first.  And the topic is ......streets.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Outdoor Kennel Status Update

San Angelo City Council learned on December 1, 2023:

Concho Valley PAWS is no longer building outdoor kennels and yards at San Angelo Animal Services.

City Council approved the construction of 25 outdoor kennels and one large play yard to better serve and improve conditions for housed animals in November 2022. This aimed to provide dog enrichment and improve the efficiency of daily cleaning.

The estimated $41,750 in private donations will instead be expended to construct these (or similar) amenities on Concho Valley PAWS’ leased property immediately adjacent to Animal Services.

Animal Services will repurpose the designated land to install a high-volume exhaust system to improve air quality in the building in the upcoming rehabilitation project. The Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) is a unit supplying cooled, dehumidified air in the summer and heated air in the winter to the entire shelter. This improves the visitor experience and provides better conditions for the staff and onsite pets.

The memo from Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden came in the aftermath of a November panleukopenia outbreak on shelter grounds.  

Morgan referenced shelter updates which have been in the works for eleven months.  The City borrowed nearly $2 million and only managed to hire engineers before paying that money back.  The project is yet to be put out to bid.

Council received a second memo regarding the shelter's partnership with Concho Valley PAWS.  It did not get the promised update in Morgan's November memo, which stated:

We’ll update you on FY23 owner redemptions’ progress next month.

Maybe that will arrive with the New Year.

Friday, January 05, 2024

Shelter's November Panleukopenia Outbreak

The City of San Angelo Animal Shelter experienced a panleukopenia outbreak in the cat colony behind the shelter building in late 2023.  Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden wrote in an e-mail to Best Friends Animal Society on Tuesday, November 14th.  It stated:

I’ve got more feedback on our increased deaths of adult cats from our colony. I apologize I wasn’t prepared with the latest info. 

  • San Angelo Animal Services hosts a colony onsite. 
  • The population is largely mature cats born here, marketed for adoption, failed to get adopted for 4+ months, gently introduced to our barn, if not thriving retrieved back to shelter. 
  • Additional cats wander up/dumped on property, catch, TNVR. 
  • Early October, shelter supervisor Halie caught 10 of the new arrivals, sheltered them in community cat room awaiting surgery. 
    • 8 appeared healthy, alert, well groomed.
    • 2 didn’t seem 100% thriving, but not snotty, diarrhea; just a bit thin and lethargic, tested positive for panleukopenia within 24 hours of arrival (not contracted in shelter), PAWS determined too far gone for treatment, euthanized. 
    • 4 more died in custody, their remains were thin, signs of diarrhea in litter box, no signs of URI.
    • These kennels were evacuated, deep cleaned, disinfected with 409 and Rescue (on a rotation).
  • At least* 8 more mature cats (not neonates, 6+ months) have been found deceased on the property.
    • Their remains appeared to be thin, no signs of URI, not grooming themselves.
    • One of these cats was TNVR’d to the property years ago, the rest are new arrivals with no vaccine history/unaltered.
    • *the cats have 10+ acres to roam and natural areas to retreat to when sick/dying.
We’re considering rounding up the remaining cats (1) assess their health and administer vaccine boosters and (2) impound/set up a panleukopenia ward for any identified as sick for supportive care (pen G and fluids). What would you recommend? Is there a concern panleukopenia lives in the soil onsite for years?

Best Friends replied with recommendations on managing the disease and disinfection procedures for the shelter to utilize. One Best Friends e-mail summarized the shelter situation:

The old colony cats that were already sterilized and vaccinated haven't been impacted much. The cats have been wandering in since the early part of the year but weren't brought in to be fixed until October due to limited surgery capacity. It's once they started bringing them in for surgery that the disease outbreak started.  Other cats in the shelter haven't contracted whatever it is.
The owner of a problem cat colony received assistance from the shelter during this period.  The gentleman did not have funds for spay/neuter.  

The owner complained about his cats dying after they'd been spayed/neutered at the shelter.  Their symptoms were consistent with panleukopenia.  

A more in depth response from Best Friends' veterinarian included:

The biggest concern is exactly what you’ve identified – the virus can remain viable in the soil for months. In this situation, vaccination is going to be the only thing that prevents infection.
Best Friends advised the handling the remaining colony cats:

For current cats – yes, I would trap/catch and administer FVRCP (modified live, injectable), and assess for illness. Parvo snap doesn’t do a great job of picking up virus prior to the onset of clinical signs, but you could use it to screen – but a negative doesn’t completely rule out very early (pre-clinical) infection. And, if already infected, then the booster vaccine won’t change anything. However, it might help you catch some of the positives (we can see a pos test ~24 hours prior to signs).

At this point, the soil is already contaminated and so I don’t worry so much about additional contamination that would happen from releasing a cat that will then break with disease in a few days, but if you think you won’t be able to recatch cats if they break with signs after release, then you may elect to hold on to them under quarantine and monitoring for 10-14 days. I would NOT hold them in the same iso room with clinical cats – if they’re not infected, we don’t want them to become infected.

Treatment recommendations included:

For treatment of infected cats, I can share our protocol. It includes intensive care, but there is also the outpatient protocol (modeled after a successful protocol for outpatient treatment of parvo in puppies) – SCF, convenia (rather than pen G), Cerenia are the pillars of treatment.
Going forward Best Friends suggested:

Any time, for the foreseeable future (6-12 months, depending on climate, rainfall), that a new cat appears – it should high priority to catch and vaccinate that cat as soon as possible. These cats can be released fairly quickly if they are adults – they should respond rapidly to a single dose of MLV vaccine (3-5 days). Anything under ~4-5 months of age should be considered high risk and should not be released on site as vaccine response is unpredictable in cats less than 16 weeks of age.

Freezing pauses the clock, and lots of rainfall will help to wash it away – so if you’re in a dry place with little rainfall, I use 12 months as my guideline. Warmer, very wet places can expect elimination at ~6 months or so (but could say 12 to be safe).

I would use this opportunity to evaluate shelter biosecurity protocols – it’s now on your property in the soil, meaning it could be brought in by staff, depending on what the geography is like. This would be of particular concern if you have group housing rooms where staff might walk into the room and could track it in (less of a concern if all cats are single housed in kennels). I would consider a footwear change if there is opportunity for contamination in this manner, if staff are out in areas of the property that the cats have a lot of access to. If you don’t have a set cadence for deep cleaning floors in all areas of the shelter, I would implement this now (and use Rescue, as it is effective against panleuk). And, of course, monitor your shelter cats closely – if we start seeing an uptick in shelter cases, then we know we need to investigate further. 

How are you diluting the Rescue for deep cleaning? What does daily cleaning look like for cats in the shelter (vs. deep cleaning)?

Also – I recommend that you discontinue the use of 409 around cats. This is a quaternary ammonium compound and, in addition to be ineffective against panleukopenia and other hardy viruses (including parvo and calicivirus), it can be toxic to cats (causes tongue ulcers, fever, pneumonia, death). Rescue is effective and is the disinfectant of choice for

As Best Friends noted prevention is the best method to reduce disease and unwanted outcomes

The public was not informed of the outbreak in November.  A disease outbreak can occur at any time, however once it has, citizens should know. Might that have prevented the distress experienced by the gentleman with unaltered cats that died after shelter spay/neuter?  Maybe, maybe not.