Saturday, February 4, 2012

Just One Day

Friday, February 3, has been a pivotal day in the life of Delaware CAPA and animal welfare in our state.  While national no-kill leaders discuss yet another state considering similar legislation, Virginia, many of us in Delaware mourn what has become a nightmare for the state under CAPA.  I read the fiscal impact statement for Virginia that accounts for one person to handle.  I guess they haven't seen the endless investigations by various agencies that have resulted here in Delaware when making that estimate.

Delaware SPCA Ends Wilmington Contract

Today in the News Journal, the news broke that Delaware SPCA will end it's contract with the city of Wilmington on June 30.
"If the law was not really about rescue access since No-Kill shelters are taking in less animals, then it seems the ultimate goal is to break the back of the Kent County SPCA so that the counties will be faced with building animal control facilities of their own eventually.  This is currently occurring in Delaware County PA when Delaware County SPCA decided to give up taking in animals as part of animal control.  Was the goal to have each of our 3 counties in the state be saddled with not only a scramble to build animal control facility like is occurring in Delaware County (taxpayer cost $1.2 Million), but to then also be saddled with the cost to operate which in Delaware County is expected to cost $1.6 Million a year, so there would be more space  to warehouse animals and additional personnel for the no-kill movement to harass into doing all the work?" - Delaware CAPA 11/14/11
The quote above were my words written just a couple months ago, but I've been stating this to friends for much longer.  Today the first domino fell with the ending of a relationship that goes back 120 years. Although my comment was in regard to the counties, I have no doubt that the rest of the dominos will continue to fall.  Wilmington is now faced  with the very "scramble" that I discussed. 

In only 5 months, they will have to figure out whether they can get someone else to take the contract in our contentious CAPA environment, or build a new shelter and hire officers to handle the task, as similarly occurred with nearby Delaware County PA. I hope the Wilmington city council lets the Governor and the state leglislature know how much they appreciate the challenge ahead.  

My judgment isn't against the shelter, because any shelter handling animal control in this environment is in an untenable position, since they are damned by one side if they maintain the contract, and damned by the other side if they walk away from the contract.  I judge the fact that this was an unfunded mandate by the state that will force Wilmington, and eventually the counties, into a costly ideology that has not been proven to be sustainable.

Wilmington, our counties, and other states looking to pass CAPA or similar legislation, need to look at the budget numbers for Austin TX.  You are now faced with telling city or county taxpayers they will have to build their own shelter, which in Austins case cost $12 Million, and below are the costs to run it screenprinted from their recent approved budget. 

I guess the extra $2.2 million that Austin is spending on their "no-kill" effort is just imaginary since Senator Bennett of Florida claimed his "no-kill" bill wasn't going to cost Florida communities.  I wonder if Florida's Attorney General works for free?  Sorry, I'll get back to Austin.

Austin's costs will continue to rise as their foster caregiver network continues to grow.  They already have 900 animals with volunteer caregivers, and as their shelter continues to stay filled, they will expand that network even further.  It will require an army to monitor that many animals offsite, which means expenses will continue to rise.  The potential to release animals to hoarders will also increase.  We've already had an example of such a case in our neighbor state of Pennsylvania. 
"The PSPCA said that it rescued 90 animals, including cats, dogs, chinchillas and pigeons from her property…. She disputed the PSPCA's figures on the number of animals seized from her home, and Williamson confirmed that Federov had helped foster kittens for the PSPCA. Federov said she had taken dogs from the former PACCA to save them from being put down." -

I think the one comment in the News Journal story that confused me the most was this one below:
"It makes it really hard to be a no-kill facility when you have to take in absolutely everything that comes to your door," he said. "You run out of space really quickly. Not every animal is adoptable." - Patrick Carroll, Delaware Humane

I don't mean to be dense, but wasn't the purpose of CAPA touted as legislation that would make us a "no-kill state"? So are they saying that it's okay for government entities to euthanize, or was CAPA merely a ploy to get additional government funded storage facilities for these unadoptable animals?  Pretty cool, the state officials get credit and photo op, and someone else (city, counties) pays the price!!!

And are we supposed to believe that the "no-kill" community has no intention of bullying the city and counties into costly warehousing and extreme medical procedures, the way they do against Kent County SPCA now?  Some of our "no-kill" shelters have expenses of over $1,000 per animal, so I'm sure citizens of Delaware will be thrilled to pay those kind of tax costs for animals warehoused in cages, while they can't afford medical care for their own pet.

The Wilmington news was our 1st strike for the day against animal welfare in Delaware.

Allegations Made Against Sussex No-Kill Organization

While the news was breaking about the contract in Wilmington this morning, there was also animal welfare news brewing in the southern part of our state.  Allegations are being made against the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary. 
"Several former members of Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary Board of Directors and volunteers for the group have broken ties and formed a new organization. The new Citizens to Save Safe Haven aims to protect the animals taken in by Safe Haven by improving record keeping and financial management." - Cape Gazette

So the question is, will the Attorney General's office now have another investigation on their hands. I'm assuming the investigation discussed on has been going on for months now.  Now the Attorney General will have another one on their hands, especially with allegations of  "serious concerns about financial mismanagement and improper care".  CAPA is still young and it's starting to look like the Attorney General's office may need to setup an Animal Welfare Division if this keeps up.  I'm looking forward to hearing what kind of budget that office is requesting next week on 2/8 at their Joint Finance Committee session.

The Citizens to Save Safe Haven of Sussex County Facebook page should also be an interesting read as Delaware's animal welfare civil war escalates.

So once again I have to wonder - has CAPA turned out to be the fluffy feel good legislation that our state leadership thought it was going to be in this photo op

Strike 2 for the day in my book.

Kent County SPCA - 3 Weeks Without A Website

Today marked the 3 week mark that our primary Animal Control agency has not had an operational website.  While I'm not ready to throw them under the bus due to this issue, it does concern me. 

Not having a website operational makes it difficult for potential adopters to find shelter hours, creates additional work for staff in answering phone calls that takes them away from animal care, and I would imagine makes local citizens more reluctant to donate.

I understand that KCSPCA is being pressured by, Delaware Votes For Animals, and some of the "no-kill" shelter directors to make a huge turnover in staff at the shelter, but my hope is that Kent County SPCA continues to be the adult in the room and considers the ramifications of doing that in the future.  They need to make sound business judgments, and continue to be fiscally responsible.  I understand that CAPA placed additional financial pressures on the shelter with the added personnel required to jump though hoops with the rescue registry, only to see a miniscule increase in transfers from the previous year, so it's that much more important to make sound business decisions to compensate for this misguided legislation.  I can only imagine the costs of additional of personnel required to pull files for one investigation after another,  but the shelter can't continue to save the highest number of animals in the state if it's not financially sound. 
Strike 3 for this day.


This is an example of Just One Day for Delaware under CAPA.  It's not the "no-kill" propaganda version of Just One Day.   It's the real life version.  So I hope the Virginia Agriculture Committee considers the damage this kind of legislation does.