Thursday, August 15, 2013

Drama And Uncertainty - A Way Of Life With CAPA

Kent County Dog Control - We Wait To See

At the Kent Levy Court Meeting noted in my previous post, it was decided by a 5-2 vote by the commission to terminate the contract in 60 days from the date notified.  Many of us are grateful that the majority of our commissioners had the good sense to realize that having an animal shelter operating with only a fraction of the staff, and with a ridiculously small amount being budgeting for veterinary care, that Safe Haven's plan was completely unrealistic and dangerous for our dog.
“The problem is your business model. It doesn’t work. It’s not going to work,” Commissioner Eric L. Buckson told Safe Haven’s board members at a public meeting Tuesday. “You’re working off hopeful revenues, and that’s dangerous.” - - No-Kill No-kill Policy Comes At A Cost For Animal Shelters
If you watch the meeting, it's obvious that the decision to terminate was what most of the people in the room were hoping to hear, especially after many in the room had seen the articles that referenced Safe Haven's plan for dogs being returned by boarding kennels that haven't been paid.  Safe Haven had stated that the dogs "will be kept in fenced areas, donated by Best Friends of Utah, until new homes are found or they are transferred to other groups".  Basically a dog tent city.

Fortunately for Safe Haven, the public comment section of the meeting wasn't until after the decision by our commission had already been voted on.  Once the decision was made, there was no longer a reason for the many disgruntled residents to speak out against Safe Haven. If you watch the meeting, it is surprising that there were those that defended them despite the shelter's plan to keep dogs in outside fenced areas. I'm still shocked that some who claim to advocate for shelter reform would think that lowering standards to that level would ever be acceptable.  Many of these same people have screamed that individual owned dogs shouldn't be kept in this matter, but under the guise of "No-Kill", we can lower the standards to the very bottom because all that matters is that the dogs are alive, not that they are treated humanely.

So now we wait and see what the Kent County Levy Court commission will do to replace Safe Haven. Yes, the typical spin has already begun from the same players that started us down this road a year ago with the rehashing of deeds from years past that have been alleged against Kent County SPCA, which was no surprise.  It's amusing to see the same people argue about individual allegations while they overlook the fact that Safe Haven intended, and possibly still intends to house dogs in dog tent city.  

It's been stated by some that the Safe Haven issues have nothing to do with CAPA, but I still argue that CAPA was sold by our state legislature and Governor as "shelter standards", while the fact that a shelter can put dogs out in the middle of a field with cages around them and the bare ground under them that can't be disinfected or protect them from a lightning strikes, clearly shows that we don't have real shelter standards. So CAPA is responsible because it took the place of standards that protect animals from the very hoarding and warehousing circumstances that we would scream about if it was done by a puppy mill. And let's be honest, had there not been the CAPA platform for the complaints to go from one agency to the next, and the multiple lawsuits that have all been dismissed to date, it's unlikely that Kent County would have ever ended up with Safe Haven as our dog control vendor in the first place.

Since the meeting, there's still a tremendous amount of drama happening.  Dog tent city never happened because one of the boarding kennels tried to hold out and keep most of the 47 dogs in his care despite the devastating blow to his business financially.  But yesterday the kennel owner attended this weeks Kent County Levy Court commission meeting and announced that the 39 dogs remaining will go back this Friday, which is understandable. The issues with Safe Haven have already placed his business in jeopardy.  The kennel owner noted that Safe Haven was already "overflowing" when he took 8 dogs back to them, so this isn't going to be pretty. Dog tent city may still be a reality. 

New Castle County - Dog Control RFP - The Assembly Line Approach

On the same date as Kent County's termination of the Safe Haven's dog control contract, New Castle County posted their Request for Proposal for Dog Control Services.  If you thought things were convoluted here in Delaware already, with every dog control contract being handled by a provider outside of it's locality, New Castle County appears to want to complicate things even further.  It's actually 4 RFP's in one.
New Castle County is seeking proposals for dog control services, which include dog control, intake, and sheltering services referenced by the section below: 
• Section I: DOG CONTROL only - County-wide 24/7 dog control services (including owner surrendered dogs), excluding the City of Wilmington and City of Newark as required by 9 Del. C. §§ 900-928, New Castle County Code Sections 4.02.001- 4.02.006 and Section 22.02.007. 
• Section II: ANIMAL INTAKE only.

So if it wasn't confusing enough for resident's to find their dogs now, just wait and see what it will be like if New Castle County ends up with different vendors for Dog Control, Animal Intake and Animal Sheltering. I may have to tell my family members in New Castle County to have GM's OnStar system embedded in their dogs.  

Here are the descriptions of the sections:

SECTION I – Dog Control Services 
Dog Control Services shall include, but not be limited to, provision of uniformed agents to retrieve dogs running at large in New Castle County pursuant to Delaware Code 9 Del. C. § 901 – 928 , respond to animal noise and nuisance complaints in New Castle County pursuant to New Castle County Code sections 4.02.001 – 4.02.006 and Section 22.02.007. 
All staff must be trained to handle dogs and give them humane treatment. The agency must have a control 
supervisor and staff member to coordinate control officers with intake services provider and shelter services 

Intake services shall include, but not be limited to, provision of examination, vaccination, medical treatment and necessary temporary holding facilities for animals picked up by animal control officers in New Castle County in accordance with 3 Del. C. § 8001 – 8007 and § 8201 – 8213. 
All staff must be trained to handle animals and give them humane treatment. The facility must have an
intake supervisor and staff member to coordinate intake services with both control officers and shelter 
services provider.

Sheltering services shall include, but not be limited to, housing, care, necessary post-intake medical treatment, necessary animal rehabilitation training, adoption services, and any necessary humane euthanasia for animals obtained by Animal control officers in New Castle County, in accordance with 3 Del. C. § 8001 – 8007. 
All staff must be trained to handle animals and give them humane treatment. Each facility must have a
shelter supervisor and staff member to coordinate shelter services with both control officers and intake 
services provider

Complete Services shall include dog control, intake and sheltering services as described above. 

Does your head want to explode thinking about how many people you may have to speak with to find your lost dog in New Castle County?  I may have to leave my dog home when visiting New Castle County. It gives me a headache even considering the convoluted logistics that having separate vendors for Sections 1, 2 & 3 will entail.  It also makes me wonder what will be next in our state.  Are we going to end up with a proposal to have an animal underground railroad where dogs go from one home to the next until someone hopefully claims it?

It really is going to be a fun legislative season next year. I realize that our legislators are never going to stop trying to cover the fact that CAPA has been a miserable failure, and it's a shame for our animals and our residents. But any state considering CAPA or a similar Rescue Act is going to see Delaware's example and run for the hills. We've seen that for the last 3 years, and that was before the worst of Delaware's drama this year.  Cities like Norfolk have the sense to understand that legislating "No-Kill" is expensive by seeing how costly it has been in Reno and Austin, but Delaware will be the example of just how ludicrous legislating "No-Kill" on the state level can be, and we're barely a state.