Archive for August, 2011

Finally! My pet project is complete!

The Rescuer’s Handbook: A Guide to Rescuing Dogs Without Losing Your Money or Your Marbles is available for purchase as a Kindle edition through www.amazon.com!  You do NOT have to have a Kindle to purchase and read this book. You can download directly to your PC or to any number of other electronic devices.

Who should read this book?

EVERYONE! (Okay, so I may be slightly biased.)

But seriously, if you are in dog rescue, I have done my best to put together a really comprehensive resource that addresses every rescuer question I’ve encountered during my years in the animal welfare world. It will also tell you about how the larger animal welfare system works, and how rescue can best function within it.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

“So you want to rescue dogs, but you don’t know where to start. Or you’ve been in rescue for a while, and you’re starting to realize how many unanswered questions you have. Written by a lifelong rescuer, The Rescuer’s Handbook will explain exactly how rescue can function best within the complexities of the larger animal welfare system. You’ll learn how to work effectively with first response agencies, and what constraints those agencies operate under that the general public just doesn’t know about. The Rescuer’s Handbook will tell you how to evaluate an animal’s suitability for your program, and what to expect once you’ve got him into rescue. It includes a comprehensive guide to commonly seen veterinary conditions among rescue dogs, as well as suggested criteria for qualifying an adopter and setting an adoption fee. This informative guide also delves into the areas where most rescuers struggle: volunteer recruiting and management, fundraising, and publicizing your rescue group to attract donors, volunteers, and adopters. Its honest approach to the rewards and challenges of the rescue world makes The Rescuer’s Handbook the go-to book for rescuers who want solid information and answers from an insider’s perspective.”

This link should take you directly to the page on Amazon from which you can purchase and download the book.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005GS6X98

Enjoy! (And please, if you enjoy it, recommend the book to your friends…)

Yesterday I went to the Montgomery County Animal Shelter to walk dogs and take pictures. Now we all know I do that pretty regularly, but this was a special occasion of sorts for several reasons.   

First, the shelter is FULL. In order to save as many animals as possible, the shelter was offering animals for adoption for just a $10 adoption fee. That meant that there would (we hoped) be an onslaught of adopters. High adoptions equals more kennel space equals more lives saved.

Second, a full shelter means they need lots of hands to walk, wash, and photograph animals. Some of the volunteers also are expert adoption counselors, which is a very necessary job. So many people that come into the shelter get overwhelmed with the sheer numbers of animals that they have trouble choosing the right animal to adopt. Volunteers who know what animals are in what rooms and something about their histories or personalities facilitate that process.

But third and most urgently:

You may recall that there has been a call for proposals with the possible goal of privatizing the shelter. A particular group of disaffected former shelter volunteers has indicated that they oppose Care Corporation’s bid, apparently because Constable Tim Holifield is part of the package. I can’t prove it, but I believe that the following is a result of that opposition.

It seems that SOMEONE got the bright idea to jack with Constable Holifield and the shelter management by putting in an open records request. That would have been fine, but as I understand it, this individual has requested EVERY single piece of documentation of every action taken by the shelter since 2005.  Given that there are at least 800 animals in the shelter every day, you can imagine how much paperwork that amounts to.

The open records laws for public entities like animal shelters are a good and necessary thing, in that it makes such entities accountable to the taxpayers. I have no problem with a genuine request for such information for a legitimate purpose.

However, this was clearly no legitimate request. A request for every single piece of paper generated by the shelter since 2005 is an overt and disgusting abuse of the open records laws. It will take the shelter employees dozens of precious hours of time to photocopy those records. Whoever made that request KNEW what they were doing. It is an obvious attempt to sabotage the shelter’s ability to do its real job – caring for those hundreds of animals.

Hours of time wasted on a frivolous and abusive open records request equals lives lost. Period. How pathetic and vicious is it that someone would resort to such tactics, knowing that animals will die, in order to make a political move?

This is not acceptable.

So the shelter put out a call for all hands on deck. The more volunteers on site, the more lives are saved.

It made me so proud when I walked into the shelter on Saturday and saw dozens of volunteers, at least double the number that are usually there. Some volunteers brought friends or spouses. I saw several new volunteers as well. We heard the call, and we came.

That open records request is still there to be dealt with, but every volunteer that came through the door on Saturday came with a message.

We want no part of underhanded political crap that hurts the animals and the people that work so hard to help them. We support MCAS. We support its employees and administrators, and we support its unceasing efforts to save as many animals as humanly possible. And we will continue to do so.

As I research the animal welfare industry for my upcoming book, I have learned that one of the biggest disconnects occurs between the rescue community and the first response agencies charged with handling animal control and investigating animal cruelty.

I recently heard a group of rescuers bragging about tricking a first response agency to prevent their “death wagon” from picking up an injured animal.  First, they lied to the agency, which damages the fragile relationship between rescuers and first responders.  Second, they wasted agency time and resources that could have been used to help another animal.  Third, had the first response agency been allowed to pick up the animal, the first response agency MIGHT have been able to track down and prosecute the people who injured the animal.

Rescuers often develop hostility toward the first response agencies, because the first response agencies do, out of necessity, euthanize animals.  Rescuers mistakenly view first response agencies as cruel, unfeeling, or unconcerned with saving the animals.  It’s just not true.  I can’t say that every first response agency does a good job, but I can honestly say that most of them really do the best they can within the constraints imposed upon them by local ordinances, city or county governments, and budget limitations.

Please realize that like law enforcement officers, first response agencies do have to operate with a certain level of detachment, because it’s the only way the employees can survive the cruelty they see every day.  But the simple truth is that they do a difficult and necessary job in challenging circumstances, and those of us in the rescue community would be far better served to work with them, instead of against them. 

Those of us in rescue work to save the animals, and it is easy for us to only see the small picture – this animal, in this shelter, at this moment.  Sometimes we don’t understand the constraints within which first response agencies operate; sometimes we just assume that we know better, because we specialize in a particular breed.  But if we really want to serve the animals, we need to make friends with local shelter workers, cruelty investigators, and animal control officers, because we will be able to help a lot more animals in the long run if we work within them instead of against them.

Rescuers, when we step up to help an animal, we need to think about all the factors.  Consider the bigger picture, and work within the system.

(This column originally ran on July 19th of last year, but it was worth saying again…)

Yesterday a fourteen year old girl told me that she loves animals and wants to help them, but there was nothing a kid her age could do to help, was there?

Yes, of course there is.

At the shelter:

If your mom or dad will go with you, you can walk dogs, play with the cats, wash and groom dogs, do laundry, and help clean. If you’re good with a camera, you can take pictures of the adoptable animals for their website, which makes it more likely that the animals will get adopted. Some shelters might be able to allow a fourteen year old to volunteer alone (with a permission slip), but many insist that an adult come with anyone under sixteen.

There are hundreds of animals in shelters, and the employees have all they can do to handle paperwork and necessities. The employees have to do intake paperwork, adoption paperwork, clean and sanitize the cages, runs, and floors, deal with the public, decide which animals are adoptable, order supplies, train volunteers and employees, and countless other mandatory tasks.

Volunteers are essential. They provide the rudimentary comfort that the overtasked employees literally cannot. The dogs NEED access to fresh air and sunlight. They NEED affection and time with humans. It keeps them healthier and happier, and thus they are more adoptable.

Outside the shelter:

You can collect donations. Shelters need towels, decent quality food (for dogs, cats, kittens, puppies), crates, toys, collars and leashes, Dawn shampoo, grooming supplies, cardboard trays, cat litter, litter boxes, food dishes, and above all else, MONEY.

How do you collect them?

If your school allows it, you can do a drive for supplies. I have a group of students that do a food drive for our local shelter every year. Last year, they collected over 1700 pounds of food, which sounds like a huge amount until you realize that the shelter uses that much food EVERY SINGLE WEEK. You can also organize an animal welfare service club to volunteer at the shelter or at shelter events, and that club can help gather supplies. Club bakesales are an easy and effective way to accumulate money you can donate.

You can also ask the companies where your adult family members work if they will match donations.  So if your school community raises $1,000 for a shelter, you might be able to get a company to donate a matching amount. 

If you belong to a church or synagogue, they might be willing to help you accumulate donations of food, cash, or supplies.  My church does an annual blessing of the animals; if yours has a similar event, it’s always a great idea to tie a fundraising effort to an event like this one.

There are dozens of ways a fourteen year old – or even younger kids – can help animals. For some of them, you may need an adult to work with you. If your parents are not able to help, you might ask a teacher, a neighbor, or even a friend’s mom if they would be the adult presence you need.

How do you know what shelter or group to help? Check online to see if your community has a local shelter. The nearer the facility is to your home or school, the easier it will be to get an adult to help you. If there isn’t, check online (Petfinder.com is a good resource). You can probably find a rescue group in your area. If you volunteer to wash dogs for a rescue group, believe me, they will be very grateful!

One last thing – if you can’t find an adult to help, don’t be discouraged. There are so many things a kid can do. What are your interests? If you like to cook, do bakesales. If you like to talk to people, you can ask people and businesses for donations. You are limited only by your creativity. If you love animals and want to help, there is always something you can do. It might just take you a little while to figure out what the best way is for you.

Recently a rescuer friend gave my phone number to a lady who found a young puppy. The puppy had begun to have seizures – at least 12 seizures in 24 hours.

The lady was more than willing to deal with the seizures, but just didn’t know what to do, and of course it was after hours on a weekend.

Since my friend knows that I have done a lot of research into canine epilepsy in the course of learning to manage Bumble the Special Child’s condition, she thought maybe I could help.

At first, I wasn’t overly alarmed by what I was hearing. The dog was having grand mal seizures lasting roughly two minutes apiece. Okay, Bumble has those.  The symptoms were consistent. They tended to hit while the dog was sleeping. He went rigid, then vocalized (meaning screamed like a banshee), paddled his legs, lost control of his bladder and bowels. During this interval, he obviously had mentally left the building – total lack of awareness. Again, this fits Bumble’s symptoms.

First difference: after the active seizure stops, Bumble wants to sleep it off. This poor little guy would do a panic run through the house, and was a danger to himself because he was running blindly into things.

Second difference: Bumble has one or two seizures a month. This poor little guy had just had his twelfth seizure of the day.

That’s alarming enough.

The big one: Bumble is an adult dog whose epilepsy is quite possibly caused by the old injury that blinded his right eye long before he came to me. We don’t know that to be so, but under the circumstances it would be a reasonable hypothesis. This puppy was only about eight weeks old.

Not good.

Most dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (meaning we don’t know why they have it) have their first seizure between one and five years of age. It is quite unusual for a dog this young to manifest idiopathic epilepsy.

So what else can cause seizures?

A few possibilities:

  • Liver toxicity
  • Low blood sugar
  • Thyroid problems
  • Brain tumor
  • Infection or virus
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Vaccination reactions

Since this puppy was a foundling, they have no way to know what he might have been exposed to. So what should they do?

GO TO THE VET. RIGHT NOW.

IF THE VET IS CLOSED, GO TO THE EMERGENCY CLINIC.

Here’s the deal. I live with an epileptic dog. I’ve learned what his “normal” looks like, and how to handle it when he strays from that normal. But this lady and her just-found puppy were in crisis. They don’t know what caused his seizures, and several of those causes can be extremely time-critical.

An epileptic seizure has been explained to me as the body running a marathon in two minutes. That level of physical exhaustion releases all sorts of metabolic products into the body, which is why many animals take several hours or even a couple of days to completely recover from a grand mal seizure.

Twelve seizures in so short a time would totally deplete the body. It was imperative that she take him directly to the vet, where they could sedate him to stop the seizures, give him fluids to help his body recover more efficiently if needed, and then look for a possible cause. If he kept having repeated seizures, he could end up with brain damage. It’s rare, but animals can die of extreme seizure activity.

The lady hung up the phone to rush him to the emergency clinic. I haven’t heard back, but I sincerely hope the vets were able to help him, and even better, to find a readily treatable and controllable cause they could address.

One final note: if you find yourself with a dog having seizures, please don’t panic. Seizures are controllable. It may take a little while to identify triggers and learn what approach works best for your dog, but most epileptic dogs live very normal, happy lives.

A few weeks ago, a careless utility company employee sparked what is certain to become an interesting and emotionally charged court case.

The employee allowed two beagles to escape from a backyard in the Woodlands, Tx. The frantic owners did everything they were supposed to do, even posting the missing dogs on Petharbor and Craig’s List. When the owners heard that a neighbor had the dogs, they rushed right over.

The neighbor told them that she had found the dogs, but the dogs were no longer there. And then she told them to get off her property.

Imagine their surprise when they learned that the SAME NEIGHBOR had found the dogs and then adopted them through Houston Beagle and Hound Rescue. The neighbor has been refusing comment. The rescue group maintains that it followed protocol exactly by waiting the statutory seven days prior to allowing the dogs to be adopted, which means they, in their opinion, have no liability here. Their theory, then, is that the adopters are now the legal owners of the dogs because the rescue followed the statute.

Here’s the problem. Technically speaking, the rescue did what it HAD to do. Ethically speaking, they didn’t. Most animals that come in to rescue need some work before they’re adoptable. Maybe it simply didn’t occur to them that these dogs needed more time before going up for adoption, because they were medically and socially ready for placement. On the one hand, the rescue followed the law and put the animals up for adoption when they were legally free for adoption.

On the other, as a lifelong rescuer, I do not think they made a proper choice. They should have seen that these dogs were very well cared for, which makes it more likely that they were accidental strays that had owners. They should have put more effort into due diligence. These animals were posted on multiple websites, and it would have been simple to discover that they were owned animals. While rescues are not obligated to do so, it is good practice with animals coming from this sort of “good Samaritan” turn in to check Craig’s List and other sources to see if they are listed as missing.

The legitimate owners could have avoided this whole mess with a few precautions.

  • Lock the gates, and require the utility companies to read the meter remotely. If they HAD to have access to the yard, and you have them on remote read, they have to notify you when they need access.
  • Make sure the animals were wearing identification tags.
  • Get them microchipped.
  • Don’t leave them outside in the yard when no one is home.

Now it appears that this case may well end up in court. There is NO question that the good Samaritan/adopter is behaving unethically.  Given her refusal to speak to the owners, and her subsequent refusal to speak to the media, combined with the multitude of “lost dog” signs posted by the owners, it seems entirely likely that she knew perfectly well to whom the dogs belonged.

Under Texas law, companion animals are considered property. Under these particular circumstances, I think it is highly likely that a judge will order these animals returned to their original owners.  And they should be.

What’s sad here is that this entire situation could have been avoided if these adults had all chosen to do the right thing.

  • The original owners could have taken more proactive precautions to protect their pets.
  • The rescue could have been more diligent in verifying that these dogs were in fact unwanted or homeless.
  • The finder/adopter could have chosen to do the right thing at any step in the process.

Even more sadly, I’m afraid that the negative publicity that will accompany this disaster will make people less willing to adopt rescued animals, for fear of losing them to an original owner. And that is just not okay.

Last night I attended an open meeting of the Alden Bridge Village Association. Rumor had it that a group of volunteers (mostly inactive, from my observation) opposed to Constable Holifield, Care Corporation, and the current administration of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter were going to attempt to sway the commissioners against the privatization bid from Care Corporation.

At the beginning of the meeting, Debbie Haas made some brief remarks in which she quite correctly acknowledged all the progress the shelter has made over the last several years, and then went on to say that there is still room for improvement.

Next, the commissioners spoke. Commissioner Ed Chance appears to be very much a supporter of Constable Holifield, as well as of privatization of the shelter. One bit of interesting information – the commissioners plan to appoint a new shelter advisory board, since the existing one appears to be defunct.

The volunteer contingent was largely derailed by the meeting’s focus on road construction and traffic issues, but near the end of the question and answer period with the commissioners, Marcia Piotter addressed the commissioners. She criticized the shelter’s save rate and downplayed the improvements made over the last several years. She also requested a private meeting with the commissioners.

Ms. Piotter was followed by Anne Leakey, wife of Steve Leakey, the President of the Alden Bridge Village Association. Pres. Leakey attempted to stop the public comments after Ms. Piotter spoke, in the interests of time management, but Mrs. Leakey spoke over him and took the floor. 

Mrs. Leakey is clearly no supporter of the current management or of Constable Holifield. She claims that during her time as a shelter volunteer several years ago, the volunteers managed to get the euthanasia rate down to roughly 30%, and that the rate has now come back up. (Constable Holifield has previously told me that this is largely due to a change in reporting methodology that was skewing the stats favorably for a time.) Mrs. Leakey and Ms. Piotter both implied strongly that the success of the volunteer programs was IN SPITE OF the current management. They also seem believe that MCAS is inflating their save stats.

These ladies made it very clear that they distrust the reported statistics of MCAS and feel that the current management is both anti-volunteer and not managing the resources they have effectively. They also believe that privatization (in the hands of a for profit entity) will lead to a higher euthanasia rate.

They are WRONG.

We would all love to see a 100% save rate, but the reality is that over TWENTY THOUSAND ANIMALS came through the shelter last year. The county’s population has grown 55% from the year 2000 to the year 2010, for a current population of 455,746 people, per the 2010 census.  The animal population has grown just as fast, but the shelter budget has not kept pace. If we estimate that the average household includes 4 people, at least one in every 5 households in the county would have to adopt an animal EVERY YEAR in order to achieve a 100% save rate. Yes, that’s an over-simplification, but you get the idea.

Let me remind you:

Most tax-supported animal shelters get $8 per capita. MCAS only gets $2.77. After they pay restricted line items (salaries, insurance, utilities), they have only $66,000 per year to pay for food, cleaning supplies, equipment, medication, and other miscellaneous expenses for over TWENTY THOUSAND ANIMALS. 

The shelter is heavily dependent on volunteers – the ones that actually do hands-on work in the shelter. Here’s just a sampling of what volunteers do in the shelter every day:

  • Clean runs and cages
  • Take photos of animals
  • Foster animals
  • Bathe animals
  • Walk animals
  • Run adoption events
  • Deal with the public
  • Organize donations
  • Spend their own money to donate supplies

I’m one of those volunteers, in a small way. I take pictures of adoptable animals, and I walk dogs. When I can, I donate food and supplies, or organize donations from other sources. I know from personal experience that the shelter management welcomes suggestions from active volunteers who truly comprehend how the shelter works. Volunteers carry tremendous responsibility and are very appreciated by the management.

Certainly the shelter is not perfect. No shelter is. But they do the best they can with what they have. As I’ve said before, I think privatization will enable the shelter to make progress, because we will not be limited to the pathetically insufficient $2.77 per capita, nor will we be subject to the painfully slow and restrictive county bureaucracy.

The group of inactive volunteers who are so bitterly criticizing the shelter are certainly entitled to their opinion. But it’s hard for me to put a lot of stock in the opinions of people whom I have never seen at the shelter. If they aren’t there, how do they know? I don’t think they are particularly well-informed about the current day-to-day state of affairs at the shelter. I disagree with their position; I’ll take my lead from the people who are in the trenches every day, up to their elbows in dog hair and dirt, trying to get every dog or cat they can out alive.

I’m disappointed that these disaffected former volunteers cannot see how much better the shelter is under this management, because I remember what it used to be like. I don’t want to see them take down a good administration that truly cares about the wellbeing of the animals.

Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

*I originally ran this column about a year ago. I decided it was time to run it again after trying to explain to a couple of friends why car restraints for dogs are important. They apparently thought I was nuts, so may be this will explain better…

Some years ago, I was driving on I-45 a few cars behind some kid in a pickup with a Rottweiler riding in the back.  The kid swerved; the dog fell out.  On the freeway.  At 65 miles per hour.  You don’t need to know the rest, and I wish I didn’t.  It made me an absolute believer that dogs don’t belong in the back of a truck.  It’s just too dangerous.

But did you know it can be just as dangerous to have an unrestrained pet INSIDE your vehicle? 

Let me begin by saying I’m guilty of this too, especially if I’m only going a few blocks.  But the fact is that every pet should be secured inside the vehicle, for his safety and yours.  According to pet safety website www.barkbuckleup.com, 98% of all people travel with their pets unrestrained inside the vehicle.  That same website goes on to tell us that a 60 pound dog can become a 2700 pound flying projectile if the driver wrecks at a speed of only 35 mph.  How often do we really drive 35 mph? 

Some of the risks of having your pet loose in the vehicle are as follows:

  • That flying projectile can kill or seriously injure the people in the vehicle.  Insurance companies say that small pets often become airborne in a wreck and hit someone riding in the front seat in the back of the head, with catastrophic consequences.
  • It drastically increases the likelihood of injury or death for the animal, just as going without a seatbelt does for humans.
  • An unrestrained pet can escape from a wrecked vehicle and either disappear or run into traffic.
  • An upset or injured pet may behave aggressively toward first responders, either to protect his people or because he himself is hurt and confused.  Any delay in first response aid can be seriously dangerous to both the animal and the people.
  • Even without an actual wreck, an unrestrained pet can fall off the seat, accidentally fall out an open window, accidentally lock or unlock doors, raise or lower windows, get underfoot, and in general cause havoc. 

The last time I picked my cousin’s boxer up from the vet, I had to pull over twice to explain that she did not have a driver’s license and therefore was to keep her hyperactive ninety pound self in the backseat.  It would have been much safer to have her restrained.

What is the best choice for restraint?  Small dogs do well in canine car seats, which often elevate a small dog so that he can see out, which makes him less likely to get carsick.  Canine seatbelts are another good option; it’s a harness, usually made of seatbelt material, that buckles to a seatbelt through a loop on the harness.  The wide straps are safer than the narrow straps of a traditional harness, because they distribute the force of the dog’s weight in the event of a crash or sudden stop.  These are usually very inexpensive and readily available at pet retailers like Petsmart or Petco.  Crates are always a safe choice, and make the dog easier to handle if you need to get him out of the vehicle quickly.

After review these statistics, Bumble’s going back into his car harness.  Even for short trips.

This evening I attended a meeting for the staff and volunteers of MCAS to discuss the possible privatization of the shelter.  The speaker was Constable Tim Holifield, under whose purview MCAS currently falls.

I learned a few facts I’d like to share.

Since 2005, the spay/neuter clinic at the shelter has performed 22,000 sterilizations. Only 22 animals have died of surgical complications. That’s a mortality rate of one tenth of one percent. Other area low cost spay/neuter clnics run around 3 percent, which means for the same number of surgeries, they would have lost 660 animals. That tells me that the vets at MCAS are doing a damn fine job.

Here’s another shocker. After salaries and restricted line items like electricity, the shelter is left with a whopping $66,000 for the year.  Out of that, they feed over 20,000 animals, purchase equipment and cleaning supplies, and try to fund medications and vaccines.  That would be why they depend so heavily on donations and volunteers. The average amount most shelters spend per capita (local population) is $8.  MCAS only has $2.77. 

Really makes you appreciate how much they do with so little.

Constable Tim Holifield and his wife Amy Holifield are the principals behind Care Corporation, one of two outfits bidding for the management rights to MCAS.  Holifield is not planning to run for Constable when his current term expires, so that he is free to manage the shelter for Care Corporation, should they be awarded the contract.

In my previous column, I addressed my serious concerns about the very secretive American Pet Association.

Now I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned about Care Corporation and the privatization process.

Essentially, Care Corporation exists as a for-profit entity.  It would serve as the personnel management contractor for the shelter, which would put Care Corporation in charge of the day to day operations of the shelter. 

Basically, as Holifield explained it, the existence of a for-profit entity is necessary in order to secure the lines of credit required for the shelter management to function.  If awarded the bid, all current employees would be able to keep their jobs.  Pay would be at least equal to their existing pay.  Benefits would be comparable if not better than what they have now.

For example, Holifield explained to us that under the existing county plan, shelter employees have to meet an annual deductible PER PERSON on their health insurance of $1,000.  He also mentioned that many shelter employees make around $10 an hour.  By my math, the current deductible for just one person in the household equals 100 hours of work.  Holifield is looking at offering an HMO plan under which the copays and deductibles would be more accessible.

Would privatization benefit the animals?

I think so. And here’s how, assuming that the contract goes to a company that understands our needs here in Montgomery County.

  • Employees would get better pay, hours, and working conditions, which equals improved morale and more motivated performance.
  • It would be possible to reward outstanding employee performance.
  • Happier, more motivated employees should result in a higher standard of animal care, a more pleasant shelter environment, and increased adoption rates.
  • More immediate action would be possible when the shelter needs supplies, equipment, or even personnel changes.
  • More flexibility in terms of operating hours and scheduling would be possible.
  • Shelter management would have the freedom to implement innovative programs for the benefit of the animals.
  • A whole lot of bureaucratic nonsense could be eradicated.

I walked away from this meeting convinced that privatization is indeed a solid option for the shelter.

Tim Holifield has spent six years steadily trying to improve conditions at the shelter.  Since he knew little about shelter management when the shelter was put under the governance of his precinct six years ago, he had a steep learning curve to climb.  He’s worked hard to learn about animal welfare.  I know with absolute certainty that it is much, much better than it was before his arrival.  It has improved even more drastically since he hired Minda Harris as director.

I liked a lot of what Tim Holifield had to say tonight. I like his ongoing dedication to learning more about animal welfare, and I really like the progress that the shelter has made under his leadership.  I appreciate that he offered us a lot of organizational transparency with facts and figures to back it up.

I would much rather have a transparent local organization that understands the needs of our community and MCAS, than a secretive, supercilious, nationwide organization with delusions of self-importance and a bad case of paranoia.

I went into this meeting unsure of whether I would support Care Corporation’s privatization bid.  I came out on Team Holifield, because I believe they are the best option for MCAS.