In today’s Conroe Courier, there is an article announcing the possible privatization of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter (MCAS).
Apparently the county has received two proposals for privatization, one from a local company (to be addressed in a future column), and one from the American Pet Association out of South Carolina.
The website for the latter (www.myapaonline.com) says that the organization was founded in 1991 and exists “to provide education and services that result in more humane treatment of companion animals in the homes and back yards of the average American.” The site also proudly proclaims the organization’s refusal to publish “internal data” and announces that “the APA is planning a major expansion of [their] Humane Services Department in 2011.”
I don’t like this.
This is a well-designed, rather fancy website. However, links that should lead to real information tend to say “more to come”. There are lots of vague references to how wonderful the APA is because they are different from, more ethical than, and not affiliated with any other organization. The site contains very little actual information, other than the name of the director, Rich Werner, and that of his dog Pete.
Here’s what I want to know.
- Who are the humans behind the APA? (not just their names, either)
- What does their “humane services” program really consist of?
- Why and how did they select MCAS as a target for acquisition?
- What are their plans for MCAS if awarded a contract?
- Will the shelter director still have the authority to make all day to day decisions about rescue, adoption, veterinary care, and euthanasia?
- Will they retain the existing director and staff, or replace them with their own hires?
- Will they pay them at least what they are making now, so that the facility can retain good employees?
- What is the average euthanasia rate at their other facilities?
- Is the organization financially sound?
- What kind of training in shelter management does the upper management of the APA have?
- And above all, what guarantee do we have that their presence in Montgomery County would benefit the animals?
The APA does not reveal the location of its offices. It does not accept “unsolicited mail.” It does not have an employee directory. And apparently you have to purchase a membership to get details of its various programs. All it offers is a toll free number to a call center.
Did I mention that I don’t like this?
Frankly, their organizational emphasis on secrecy strikes me as creepy. Unless the APA is willing to provide total organizational transparency on an ongoing basis, I don’t believe they have any business in Montgomery County.