Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Back on Track

I have been away from my blog for three reasons:
1. My 16-year-old daughter had Marching Band Competitions from early October through the first week of November.
2. My Off-Site Coordinator and dear friend, Ms. M. stepped down from volunteer Team Lead for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter at the end of September.
3. The Shelter has undergone many shifts and changes, and I've been completely out of the loop.

On November 9th, I found a home for the wonderful Mrs. Puff. A fellow Band Mom adopted her, and Mrs. Puff has already been Vet-checked and had treatment for her teeth. Mrs. Puff had 7 teeth pulled and is on a KD Diet and has trimmed down almost a pound since her arrival at the Shelter in late July. My friend is going to start PetsMart training with Mrs. Puff at the end of the month. Like many Chihuahuas, Mrs. Puff didn't know anything about leashes and had no real obedience skills. So this spry, 10-year-old girl will soon learn how to sit and heel! And since it is an "open adoption", Mrs. Puff may visit our house for dog-sitting when my friend is traveling.

I have a new foster--a very bouncy, cute-as-can-be black-and-tan Miniature Pinscher puppy. "Desiree" came to my house the day after Mrs. Puff left. She is about 4.5 months old and weighs 5.2 pounds with the cast on her broken right front leg. She arrived at the Shelter with the injury, along with dark blue paint on her toenails. She was someone's pet but wasn't claimed. Our Shelter has a less-than-stellar return-to-owner rate. Desiree has to wear the cast (and the Cone of Shame) for about 8 weeks. She'll visit the Vet who did the surgery, which included a pin to hold the bones in her leg in place, next week for a check-up.

My own dogs are doing well--Chopper had his two heartworm shots and is at the end of his one-month of rest. And Cross is still a sweetie, although she needs an appointment at the groomer's to trim off her shaggies.

I have removed this blog from my Facebook account via Networked Blogs. I made the decision after receiving a message from the acting Shelter Director regarding some numbers I quoted about the euthanizations of cats over the summer. I made it clear in the post (see September 16th) where I got the information: "Meanwhile, the Shelter is overrun with kittens and cats. I heard, unofficially, that approximately 1,000 cats and kittens have made the trip to the EU room in the past few weeks."

The response from the Shelter Director was first posted on my Facebook wall, then later removed and sent to me via a Facebook message:

"Your 'unofficial' information about 1000 dogs/cats going to the EU room was very, very inaccurate. Since I know you care about the dogs who may not realize when people who don't know us read those things and may think we're a high kill shelter and we are NOT..and may choose not the help us. As you know, community support is vital to saving animals."

The number of EUs per month is listed on the County's website under Archives. I checked the numbers here: http://www.co.montgomery.tx.us/animal/search/reportarchive.htm. Unless the County's own numbers are inaccurate, my qualified statement (regarding cats only, since that is what I was writing about in the two sentences I devoted to the subject) was not overstated. According to the County, 600 cats were euthanized in July 2010, while in August, 233 cats were euthanized due to space/behavior issues (the County is instituting new, more specific labeling criteria). An additional 207 cats were euthanized in August due to sickness or injury. These numbers match closely with the numbers from my "unofficial" sources.

At the time Shelter Director's response arrived in my email, things were up in the air at the Shelter and rumors were flying loose and fast. Two months later, things have settled down and Constable Tim Holifield, the public official in charge of the Shelter (in theory, the buck stops with him), has made some changes and put some positive spin on things. I'm not criticizing, just stating my opinion, based on the communications sent out to volunteers.

Meanwhile, my friend, Ms. M., has been on an information-gathering safari, rounding up no-kill sheltering models, including the benchmarks used by Austin Pets Alive. It is Ms. M's opinion that actual progress toward becoming a "No-Kill" Shelter is minimal at best.

The Constable wrote in a volunteer newsletter circulated in mid-October:
  • As we progress to the status of 'No Kill', we must first successfully pass a multitude of milestones, each having their important place in every 'No Kill' Shelter. To my knowledge, in the State of Texas there are none that are government owned. The difficulty with a government owned facility is the lack of ability to decide which animals will be accepted or refused.
  • It is the position of staff, volunteers and animal lovers alike of moving Montgomery County Animal Shelter closer and closer until we reach the ultimate goal of a 'No Kill Shelter'. We believe there are several components to reaching this goal and simply overcrowding a kennels with 3+ animals and watching them get sick, while claiming to be 'No Kill' except for sick animals is not the answer."
I'm clueless as to whether these statements represent true commitment or the usual political blather. We'll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, I'm fostering the Miniature Pinscher for the Friends of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter (FMCTAS), a fund-raising non-profit group that provides money for medical expenses and other needs that fall through the cracks at the Shelter. Although Desiree is an adorable dog, I'm not sure why she wasn't placed with a rescue, in particular, with the Texas Chapter of Internet Miniature Pinscher Service (IMPS) which does fabulous work foster, re-habbing and placing Min-Pins. The FMCTAS has spent a lot on this sweet girl (and we can only keep praying she doesn't get distemper) but if she is placed as an MCAS pet, she'll be adopted out for $75.00 at best.

While there have been days I've stood in the Adoption Rooms and wished we had some purebred dogs instead of 80 pit-lab mixes and hyper Cattle Dogs, I know we probably need to focus on moving as many animals out of the Shelter as possible. Getting dogs (and cats) into rescue is vital.


So, faithful readers, I'm back on track, even if I don't know where I will be serving as a volunteer. For now, fostering is fine. Ms M. is working on some new directions and I plan to be involved with that, too, even if I'm not able to help with the ground-floor planning due to some other personal commitments. Please bear with me and stay tuned!


  1. Welcome back! Sure hope your daughter enjoyed the MB comps!

    It's too bad politicin' is a part of rescue! I know, whatever you do will be time well spent!

  2. Yes, wait and SEE is best. What people say and then what they actually do can be two totally different animals! Just because shelter leaders say the right words doesn't mean the kill rate will reduce. But people can make a difference by doing what you do -- foster a shelter or rescued pet and help out at pet adoption days to help move more pets. Wishing you the best on your mission to help pets in need in your area.

  3. glad you're back.

    Sorry to hear about all the confusion about no-kill. I know that if my humane society did not work with rescues and an extensive foster network, we would not be able to be no-kill. We do turn animals away though since we haven't got a building yet (it's 95% done - we'll open doors next spring). When we have our building our projected intake will increase dramatically. We're hoping we won't be inundated but we do expect to be full within 3 days of opening. People will trap stray cats like no-tomorrow.

    What about working with transport to move some of the dogs??

    Believe it or not, some shelters in Ontario actually have semi's once a week bringing in dogs from other provinces (mainly Quebec).


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