Over the course of the past six months, myself and several other citizens have heard that the Licking County Commissioners are “transitioning” the dog pound. So in the Commissioners’ meeting last Thursday, Shelly Myers, who had asked to be put on the agenda, told the Commissioners that we had made a lot of suggestions but don’t feel there has been any improvement at the pound. As her first item on the list, she politely asked them to explain what they mean by “transition.”
For several seconds, the Commissioners sat silent. Ms. Myers reminded them that “transition” was their term and asked them to define that term. Commissioner Brad Feightner spoke up and said it meant they were making the pound more efficient although some may perceive we have not done that.
Feightner also said they haven’t been using the “gas box” at the pound in response to public outcry. When asked why they are keeping it…is there potential use for it again…Licking County “Dog Pound” office manager John Silva went into a long winded attempt at an explanation saying that they needed to see if there were veterinarians out there that were available 24/7 in case of a dog hit by a car or other suffering dogs where one employee couldn’t easily or safely euthanize and he found that, “yes” there are veterinarians available 24/7. In fact, he says four veterinarians committed to help with emergency situations.
A couple of us asked, “Then why not get rid of the gas chamber since it hasn‘t been used for two months and we now have veterinarians available?“ Commissioner Tim Bubb was obviously frustrated and raised his voice. His comment was, “It’s an appliance in our building and it’s there until we remove it!” Have they all forgotten that it is INHUMANE to gas an injured animal?!
Throughout the meeting, office manager Silva gave his looonnnggg attempt at answers and I felt like he was purposely burning up the short amount of time that had been given to us. I don’t necessarily blame him since the Commissioners told him to stay for this meeting. But, when asked what Silva has done to make the pound better, he said he has raised the standard of service. He claimed that when the public comes into the pound “they feel like we enjoyed and appreciated them visiting.”
That claim was quickly refuted when one of the people at the meeting spoke about a recent event when an elderly lady asked THREE TIMES for a staff member to help her go back and look at the animals. Silva explained that staff members are stationed at the phones and sometimes cannot leave the desk because of the phones. He also said that it is a “divided attention” issue and he would rather have quality (PR skills) over quantity.
This explantion also doesn’t float since many people call in looking for their lost animal and MOST of the time the staff tells them they have to come in. If quality was really a priority, ALL of the staff would be doing whatever they can to reunite owners and lost animals as well as promoting adoptions and just plain being friendly to the public.
When asked about the hours open to the public and what are you doing to enhance the service to the public or to increase the adoption rates, Silva said the euthanasia rate was very low and he felt that was the true measurement that people are adopting the animals in the hours currently open to the public.
However, Ms. Myers quickly told Silva that he is giving inaccurate numbers when it comes to euthanasia rates. In order to properly calculate the rates, you must subtract the number of animals that are taken by rescue. Myers said, “They (rescues) are doing it all.” She said the euthanasia rate is close to 30% for dogs and 80% for cats.
The gas chamber has to go and so does Jon Luzio and others!