I encourage readers to adopt animals from the local shelters. So when I received the following letter of concern from a former client, I sought a response from the director of Kern County Animal Control. Read on:
Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012
I wanted to report to you that I took your advice and visited both the Mt. Vernon animal control and Gibson SPCA facilities last Saturday to leave my yearly donations. While at each facility I took the time to view the numerous dogs available for adoption. So many beautiful dogs and puppies, especially at the Mr. Vernon facility. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people wanting to adopt. I have to admit, though, I was very disappointed at the condition of each cage. There were piles of feces, literally, on the floor of every enclosure I saw and, of course, many of the dogs were covered in it. This was around 10 a.m.
When I entered the first building after walking along the outside of the western cages, I gagged, the odor was so overpowering. I continued my visit but only after covering my mouth and nose with a hanky and taking short breaths. What bothered me the most was the number of young men in rubber boots standing around in the office with, apparently, nothing to do. I would have thought that, especially on a Saturday, the cages would have been clean or at least in the process of being cleaned. Unfortunately, they were not.
I saw two small dogs I wanted to take home. They were a black and white cocker and a white and gray schnauzer. I'm sure I'll see more dogs as we get ready to adopt. With the number of dogs available I don't understand why anyone would spend hundreds of dollars to buy a dog ... when there are wonderful pups and dogs just begging to be taken. So many beautiful, playful dogs and puppies that would make wonderful pets if given the chance.
Please encourage your readers to seek out pets at the Mr. Vernon (Kern County Animal Control), Gibson (SPCA), and Shafter and Wasco facilities ... They'll be glad they did. I know, I have Lady to prove my contention.
Friday, Dec. 28, 2012
Hi Maggie, (Maggie Kalar, marketing and promotions associate, Kern County Animal Control)
When Gene (a former client) asked my advice recently about getting a new puppy (either purchase or adoption), I suggested he take his time, "window-shop" the shelters and he would know the right dog when he saw it.
His concern about the cleanliness of the runs disturbs me on many levels. I know this problem can exist wherever large numbers of dogs are housed, but that doesn't mean it should be tolerated. This is a management issue, and clearly there has not been a no-tolerance policy for dogs standing in filth put into place. I know this is not an isolated incidence because whenever I have come to the shelter I have experienced the same problem. I know that the dogs eliminate non-stop so the runs cannot be expected to be spotless, but there is no excuse for this.
I plan on running Gene's letter next week because it expresses the concerns of many people, including myself. I wanted to give Animal Control an opportunity to respond as well as bring this serious concern to the attention of the kennel employees. I don't want this story to be an attack on the shelter. I want people to visit there and adopt so we need to assure them that this problem will be addressed.
Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012
Thank you for allowing Kern County Animal Control to be able to respond to your client's concerns. We are always open to feedback and ideas from the public that can continue to help us make improvements to our operational processes, and to ensure that we provide a clean and healthy environment for the pets in our temporary care.
As we continue to provide services and temporary housing for Kern County's homeless pets, we are faced with many challenges. To combat some of these challenges we have developed some short-term solutions, including expanding the volunteer program and integrating more volunteers into the daily cleaning regimen and continuous upkeep of the kennels. Volunteers will also continue to fill various roles to support the staff, such as greeters in the lobby and kennel areas to assist the public with any questions and provide direction regarding adoption and lost pets. We have also been working to improve the housing environments for the animals, as well as making improvements to the kennel drainage system, lighting and overall aesthetics of the facility to ensure that customers have an enjoyable experience when visiting the shelter and thus, will continue to support are efforts to shelter, care and find permanent loving homes for Kern County's homeless pets.
However, the long-term solution for Kern County's homeless pet problem is for the community to work together. Pet owners must be responsible for the pets by vaccinating, spaying or neutering and keeping their pets confined to their properties. Kern County Animal Control will also continue to expand services to help residents in need, such as low-cost vaccination and licensing clinics, low-cost spay/neuter vouchers and free microchipping. If we all work together we can continue to save more lives.
Jen Woodard, Director, Kern County Animal Control
I want to thank Maggie Kalar for responding to Gene's (and my) concerns immediately and Jen Woodward for getting back to me on a holiday weekend with Kern County Animal Control's plans to resolve this problem.
-- Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at email@example.com. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.