Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kent County Delaware's Dog Tent City - MEETING July 30, 2013

Meeting at Kent County Levy Court July 30 at 7:00PM

Last month we watched as Safe Haven claimed they would close as early as the following week, and once animals were adopted out and donations received, they changed the story and said it was merely a rumor (guess they figured we wouldn't notice that the rumor was started by their own board members).  Well their PR machine went into overdrive this last week.  One minute there was news that they close on August 31 and needed help again to get animals out of the shelter, then hours later we were told they would remain open.  The happened several times over the last week.
Ms. Lofthouse said Wednesday that critics had called the shelter “bipolar” in the wake of quickly changing news that it was closing and then staying open, and acknowledged that the situation was confusing and encouraged the public to have patience and maintain its support of the facility. - Delaware State News, Safe Haven outlines plan to salvage operations 
Given the fact the constantly changes in direction within such a short time, I would describe their erratic decisions more appropriately as "schizophrenic".

Dog Tent City 

Maricopa County Prison Overflow
Safe Haven's Dog Tent City in Progress

Delaware animal welfare has sunk to a new low point.  Dog Tent City for Safe Haven's overflow of animals that have been in private boarding kennels is about to become a reality here.
"Most of the dogs that have been living in kennels are being moved back to Safe Haven's Georgetown location and will be kept in fenced areas, donated by Best Friends of Utah, until new homes are found or they are transferred to other groups." - Cape Gazette - To Close or Not To Close?
Anyone that thinks setting up kennel fence panels with tarps in the middle of a field is adequate shelter from the elements (heat, driving rain, lightning storms, wind, and possible tropical storms & hurricanes) has to be out of their minds.  The ground can't be disinfected to prevent disease, dogs will become flea and tick infested. and the number of animals that will end up with heartworms will be ridiculous given our wet summer this year and the proliferation of mosquitoes as a result.  And don't forget the potential for rabies from bats who will have easy access to the dogs through the fencing.  That doesn't even take into consideration dogs digging under or climbing out of the enclosure, This is just wrong on so many levels.

EVERYONE that wants to address the current dog control contract in Kent Count, and proposed Tent City, 
NEEDS TO ATTEND this meeting.

Dog Control Services Contract – Overview and Status Report by Safe Haven 
Board of Directors: President Lois Fargo

Kent County Administrative Complex 
555 Bay Road, Dover, DE 19901 
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 
Levy Court Chamber (Room 203) 

Real Standards Needed !!

What's sad about this situation is that a general consensus at the Public Hearing was that people want real animal shelter standards. Standards that address temperature, proper protection from the elements, adequate food and water, proper disinfection, staffing levels.  Considering recent layoffs and resignations at Safe Haven during a time when the shelter is receiving back a large number of animals, staffing levels are precarious at best. Many of us also want real standards that grant an agency authority to inspect shelters and address insufficient standards as the ones referenced earlier.

Unfortunately the Animal Welfare Task Force barely touched on the topic, instead focusing on CAPA which the state calls "the Shelter Standards", yet has none of these actual standards that will protect animals from conditions like we are about to see. It's time to focus on ensuring that the animals in shelters are provided adequate care, and stop playing political games that are only driving resources away from all of our shelters.

The even more pathetic part about this is that the politicians that placed animals in this situation by ignoring the public's request for real standards (Governor Markell, Senator Patricia Blevins and the rest of the legislature, Kent County Levy Court Commission, and the Kent County Administrator, and those on the Animal Welfare Task Force who sat idly by and lacked the backbone to address the many problems addressed are the Public Hearing) are hiding away without a peep like cowards. One resident who contacted Senator Blevins office was told it was Levy Courts problem. This is the person whose Animal Welfare Office is supposed to fix things???  All levels certainly know how to pass the buck.

Let's hope that the meeting above means that Kent County Levy Court finally intends to step up to the plate and address what is about to happen, and listen to the concerns that so many have about the proposed Dog Tent City and act in the best interest of the animals and residents of Kent County.  There have been isolated complaints about the previous dog control contractor in the past, but it's ludicrous that anyone would support the wholesale cruelty that's about to occur under our current contractor.

But make no mistake - if this does get ugly and Dog Tent City is allowed to occur, every one of these politicians will have the blood of these dogs on their hands.  I hope that these individuals are forced to view the outcome when it happens and haunts their dreams as much as it will ours.

In fact, if it does happen, all the politicians that sat by while this happens can count on their pictures being included in a slideshow between shots of the outcome, especially if it ends up looking like the nightmare in Kentucky.
 "The place was not real clean. Quite honestly, in my opinion, there were still too many animals being housed there. There was one cage that had seven in it and another had six dogs." "It was way overcrowded," said Watkins. "They're holding way too many animals. There were animals loose throughout the facility. There was food and feces on the floor. "We're trying to hold onto every animal we've got," instead of euthanizing them. Watkins said. "That is creating a major, major portion of our problems (with disease), from parvo to distemper. We're turning it from a no-kill to a slow-kill facility because of the disease." - Article by the Gleaner 
You can count on it being burnt into the public's memory for a long time.

What's Next?

The priority at this point is for residents in Kent Count to make Levy Court Commissioners understand that Tent City is not what we expect from our tax dollars.  Given the number of dogs Safe Haven took in last year, we are paying them over $1,000 per animal intake, which is almost double the higher end contracts and they still can't operate effectively.  It's time to address the fact that residents have had issues with the current contractor not responding, and now the concern for how they are dealing with their financial failure and the care of the animals in their care. Wholesale housing of dogs in a shanty town is not an acceptable use of taxpayer dollars.

We also want Kent County to talk to the kennels currently holding the animals in their care and think it's only fair that the county buy these animals some time to give people time to find their lost pets, and for organizations to step forward and assist getting adoptable animals out of this situation that Safe Haven under Kent County's contract placed them in.  While we would object to the Kent County Levy Court paying any of Safe Haven's past debts, many of us are  in support of the county paying for at least a month to allow residents an opportunity to reclaim their pets, and rescue organizations to step forward and help these animals.  Remember, Kent County chose this contractor and has ignored complaints for months, so it's up to Kent County to ensure the best outcome for everyone involved.

Like the Public Hearing in November, let's show people across the state that residents care about how strays and our own lost pets are cared for by filling Kent County Levy Court.  Don't forget that it could be your pet that accidentally gets loose and pays the consequence for inaction.