There have been a lot of changes happening at Columbus Animal Care & Control. There was quite an uproar after my last two blogs (which can be read here and here) were posted and shared by many. I knew there would be repurcussions, so I immediately began sharing information about Section 1983, “a very old legal remedy available to rescuers who find that their advocacy on the front lines has led to the suspension or elimination of their rights to visit, monitor, and rescue animals from these shelters.”. Every animal advocate should be familiar with Section 1983, as it protects volunteers and rescuers from retaliation for speaking up for the animals that we are here to save.
The day my blogs were shared, I was blocked from posting to Animal Control’s facebook page (and subsequently had another citizen blocked for sharing a comment of mine). This was a page that had been created to “provide information and answer questions from the public”. Instead, the staff monitoring the page became defensive and started DELETING the tough questions instead of using them as an opportunity to educate, and BLOCKING anybody who they felt threatened the status-quo.
They quickly changed the page so that users (that AREN’T blocked from the page) can only respond in comments, under the status updates that the staff provides – which mostly includes fluff pieces like “Yay, we adopted out 3 dogs, 1 cat was returned to her owner, and 2 dogs were transfered to a rescue!”. Two days later, the entire Volunteer Program was cancelled.
A short history lesson: Columbus Animal Care & Control moved into their brand new building in November of 2009. In an effort to save on resources, it was decided that the new building would also house the entire Special Enforcement Division, which in addition to Animal Control, includes complaints about neighboring overgrown lawns, junk cars, and more. At that time, the Special Enforcement Division Manager (the head honcho) was Chris Brown. For reasons unconfirmed, he was removed from that position (relocated somewhere with the city) and replaced by Drale Short. Shortly after, Drale Short was removed, and Chris Brown was reinstated - we’ve been working with him with since our No Kill initiative began earlier this year. Well, Chris Brown has proven his inability to make real change, instead only providing excuse after excuse as to why things are now the way they are. Last Friday Chris Brown was removed from his position for the second time, and he was replaced by none other than Ms. Drale Short. And so it goes – Chris Brown, Drale Short, then Chris Brown again, followed by Drale Short again, all within 2 short years. I welcome any and all theories as to why this game of musical chairs has been going on in our city…
So, when Drale Short came on board she cancelled the Volunteer Program. The day before the Volunteer Program was scheduled to launch, the appointed Volunteer Coordinator backed out. Luckilly, the Volunteer Orientation continued as planned, lead by the staff at the limited-intake shelter next door, PAWS Humane, but it provided little (if any) real information or training specifically for Animal Control. The volunteer program was basically a free-for-all, set-up for failure from the very beginning, which is supposedly why it has been put on hiatus - until some structure and protocol can be developed. A smart move in my opinion.
Two new Volunteer Coordinators have been appointed. Caitlyn Townsend (who created and runs the Happy Homes facebook page) is the Off-site Adoption Coordinator, and Sally Gowins is the In-house Volunteer Coordinator. We will be meeting with Drale Short and others later this week, and hope to have the volunteer programs up and running asap.
Off-site adoptions have continued (with some limitations), with volunteers that have already attended the orientation being allowed to host their own off-site adoption events, which we did Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of last week. Drale Short has been helping to get these off-site adoption events organized, more efficient, and most importantly “by the books”. We all want them to be as successful as possible, and the sooner we’re all on the same page, the more lives we can be saving!
Right now, I think we need more volunteers with organizational skills that can help manage some of the volunteer groups that will be created. *Check back for information about upcoming volunteer orientations.*
A lot has changed since Drale Short was at Animal Control. The community has been quite clear in what we want, and what we’re willing to do – and that’s ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that is needed to save these pets! This is her chance to look really good, and to make this city look really good, by embracing and implementing the programs and services of the No Kill Equation.
Unfortunately (and isn’t there always something), miscommunications, easily treatable illnesses like URI and *suspected* Coccidia, along with the staff’s need to “make space”, continues to cost lives. These are LIVES that we’re talking about… it could be your dog, it could be my cat, but my next blog will include my rant about the lives lost this weekend.
In addition, the staff-person mentioned in this blog (who dragged and bloodied the small dogs) is still employed by Animal Control.