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.