Former Louisville Metro Animal Services employee Karen Dickson is speaking out about a January 22 letter to the editor that appeared in A Kentucky Newspaper.
We discussed it at the time but there’s nothing like hearing directly from those people in the belly of the beast:
I was surprised to read the letter of Jan 22, 2012 regarding recent changes to Metro Animal Services. As the Metro Animal Services Volunteer Coordinator from August 2009 until November 2011, I took pride in soliciting, training and working with all LMAS volunteers at both facilities. The writer is the owner/founder of a local pet food company that comes to the shelters once a year to give the dogs a holiday treat. I’m not sure this self described “longtime volunteer” has spent much time witnessing the daily shelter conditions or interacting with staff.
Her observations of a cleaner kennel with healthier animals might have been due to the fact that the management was aware of her upcoming visit and sent out a press release on Dec. 21 announcing the fact. The media was even invited to attend for a photo op. Current management is obsessed with projecting a public image of cleanliness and order, at the expense of more pressing issues, such as animal health and getting the dogs and cats out alive. While appearances are subjective, numbers are not, and the numbers coming out of LMAS are a depressing read that prove nothing much has changed for the animals.
In 2010, under Wayne Zelinsky, LMAS euthanized 56% of all animals it took in. For the first 7 months of 2011, under two additional Interim Directors, the euthanasia rate was 40%. In the first three months after Justin Scally took over, the euthanasia rate soared to 59%, higher than the previous 7 months or anytime in the previous year. In fact, in just those first three months, Mr. Scally presided over the deaths of 1,233 cats and 438 dogs.
Adoptions are a similarly dismal story. In 2010, 16% of all animals that entered the shelter were adopted. For the first 10 months of 2011, 18% of all animals that entered the shelter were adopted, but this moderate 2% increase was at a new $2.5 million facility on Newburg Road. In light of this moderate increase I think it is fair to ask why the Manslick Road shelter is not staffed with personnel that will serve potential adopters there and not insist they drive across town to see a dog or cat they can adopt immediately.
I agree with the writer that the staff has worked hard at cleaning the shelter, but at what real cost? The shelter is understaffed and volunteers are discouraged from helping if staff cannot scrutinize their every move. If LMAS Management would concentrate on solving the real problems, they wouldn’t have to spend such an inordinate amount of time worrying about public perception. The image problems would solve themselves.
Dickson sent that as a response to the AKN but it obviously wasn’t published.