Looking to the future

I’ve written quite a bit about what’s wrong with Stockton Animal Services, and there’s a lot wrong that I haven’t written about yet: the fact that the Animal Protection League’s taxpayer subsidized cat adoption center averages fewer than one adoption a day, for example, or the information that feral cats that are neutered and released are counted in the stats as “returned to owner,” obscuring the fact that only 13 cats were really returned to their owners in that same five and a half month period. Or how about the information that of more than 800 dogs labeled as pit bull or pit mixes, only about 100 made it out alive, and most of those were puppies. But more about that next week. I hope you’re already convinced that Stockton Animal Services is in serious need of reform. I hope you already believe that a police department that supports its outlaw animal services director lacks any credibility to enforce the law. I hope you already believe that implementing the No Kill Equation, which works to save every healthy and treatable animal in more than 80 communities, is what Stockton and San Joaquin County should be doing. So let’s talk lifesaving. What could we be doing?

Reduced intake (short and long term) + increased placement + excellent care and rapid flow-through = every healthy and treatable animal is saved

IntakeAndPlacementUpdateThe most important thing Stockton and San Joaquin can do to improve animal services is to get rid of its incompetent, killing-oriented, outlaw director Pat Claerbout and hire a compassionate director who is committed to saving lives and knows how to implement lifesaving programs.

A compassionate director would love and be dedicated to saving animals, but just as important, that person would be excellent with people and great at building relationships. He would start a proactive owner redemption and retention program to help people keep their pets, collaborating with area veterinarians and the ACT Spay and Neuter Clinic to promote vaccination and spay/neuter and to set up drop-off sites for donations of pet food and supplies. He would open the locked steel door that keeps people from finding their pets in the stray hold area and keeps them from seeing what animals may be in need of homes. He would build a network of foster homes–both for animals already in the shelter and for short-term care for pet owners going through some crisis that might otherwise make them give up their pets. And he would reach out to schools, colleges, churches, senior centers and community groups to volunteer in and out of the shelter, for major short-term projects and/or long-term for a couple of hours a day, a week, or a month.

A compassionate director would reach out to area businesses, non-profits and individuals to raise money for projects and programs, through grantwriting, donation campaigns, and events. He would help build the capacity not only of animal services but also of area rescues, other shelters, and non-profits that help animals. And he would team up with institutions and organizations whose focus is people, and create joint projects that are a win-win. There are programs in which low-risk prisoners socialize and train shelter dogs as service or working dogs. There are job skills training programs that place participants in shelters for work. Imagine how much cleaner the shelter could be and how much better cared for the animals could be if enough screened participants in job training programs worked there in addition to a trained and dedicated staff. Imagine if the dogs got exercise and the cats got attention. Imagine if adoptions were encouraged.

A compassionate director would marshal and build on the resources available in Stockton and San Joaquin instead of letting the San Francisco SPCA and preferred (meaning distant and silent) rescue partners siphon off what are seen as the only animals of value–the “cute and fluffies”–and killing the rest. We need a compassionate, competent, creative, and collaborative director–let’s make it our New Year’s Resolution to advocate for the No Kill Equation in Stockton, starting with a compassionate director who can make it happen.


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