To Adopt: Hound.haven AT gmail DOT com
This is Part 2 of a letter to rescuers by veteran Animal Care Services (ACS) volunteer, Lisa Chandler. (Part 1 was excerpted here.)
I am writing this to enlist the help of fellow rescuers, potential adopters, and concerned citizens of San Antonio who are concerned about the manner of how their tax dollars are being spent. (in regards to ACS-Animal Care Services)
Two months or more ago Sheryl Sculley (San Antonio city manager) told Gary Hendel (director of Animal Care Services) [demoted since this letter was written –ed.] that there were to be no more bad pictures of animals posted on the Internet.
She made this comment to him in reaction to complaints of animals pictured in their feces, vomit, and bloody animals put on the website. That's a fair enough statement and it’s sad that it took Ms Sculley telling Gary to get that changed.
Gary took that as no more bad pictures (i.e. not posed well) and took away the bulk of the responsibility from the Animal Care Officers (ACO's) who have had that as part of their job description and gave it to --we're not sure, it’s been passed around the block a time or two.
The picture process is supposed to be part of the intake procedure-immediate pictures of animals. The computer system updates itself every 15 minutes so citizens can see if their missing animal is at ACS.
The bottom line is that animals have been going through the facility without ever making it onto the website, or if lucky, they may make it on a day or two later. They have circumvented the very computer system that tax payers paid good money for to ensure that the animals are seen for their full 72 hours that they are there to be reclaimed, adopted, or rescued before they are euthanized.
I am sure the public has no idea that their animal can go through that system and never be seen on the Internet. What average citizen would think that is happening? And how outraged would they be if they knew something so simple to fix was costing animals their lives after being sold a bill of goods that we are "trying" to get to "no-kill". For the last two months the managers of this department have been told about the problem and it still continues. As you are aware, apparently nothing can be done in a nice way. It appears we all need to make a huge scene about it.
It is so difficult to recover a lost animal in San Antonio. An animal has only 72 hours in the shelter until he or she is killed (as the vast majority are), adopted or taken by a rescue. Now it turns out that some animals get a head start on being killed by never appearing on the website. It is hard to find, adopt or rescue an animal you never get a chance to see!
Yes, your dog or cat could come into ACS and never be put on the website before being killed.
Who is responsible for seeing that the expensive computer/software/camera system, meant to provide a service to taxpayers who lose animals, is properly utilized?
Did you look for a lost dog or cat and never see your precious animal again? Do you think it is OK that your animal may not have been put online because he didn’t take a good photo? And if your animal sat in a crate and got carsick – why wasn’t that animal wiped off before being photographed. Why would ACS not be cleaning animals that arrive covered in filth? If their photos are taken with them in that condition, how long do they remain in that condition?
There is also the problem, which Lisa does not raise, of poor photos that are the work of a bad photographer, rather than the animal being frightened or injured and uncooperative. A lot of the photos are not formatted properly and the animal appears elongated. This is an error with how the photo is cropped and is perhaps due to an incorrect camera setting. All the photos have to be the same size for the web and when a photo is forced to fit, it can result in a skewed distorted photo which makes identification difficult.
The breed identification is also very haphazard and rescuers looking at the ACS photos point this out in their online discussions every day.
What happens, if, as Lisa explains once happened, a Min Pin mix is misidentified as a German shepherd mix?
A Min Pin is a very small delicate lap dog, in some demand, and shepherd mixes in San Antonio march towards their deaths in an unending tan line. But there are other consequences, besides possibly ensuring a death sentence, in labeling a dog the wrong breed.
Potential adopters asked about the Min Pins, “Aren't these dogs going to get big?” Even though they were 3 months old and had just made the 3 lb weight to get altered.
One adopter rented and had to show his landlord the paperwork. The lease specified a 20 lb maximum weight restriction. How did the adopter explain his Min Pin was not a shepherd mix when the paperwork said otherwise?
The family vets call ACS to check if they have the right paperwork when they see the breed listed as shepherd and they are examining a tiny Min Pin! It puts ACS in the embarrassing position of appearing to not know the very basics of their job.
Lisa’s letter illustrates something else. The San Antonio City Manager, not trained in animal control, is involved in the minutiae of running the city’s deadly shelter. The City Manager called to tell the shelter director how to put photos on the website. In addition, her directive was not properly understood. (Who is not speaking directly to whom, here?) This just underscores that the San Antonio city government is responsible for the many thousands of animals killed here each year.