Tuesday, September 30, 2014

OAW Dog Control Recommendations - Confirming CAPA's Cost

I was just taking a look through the posted Delaware Animal Control Recommendations that the The Division of Public Health's Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) has on their site.

CAPA Slammed Shelter Doors Shut & Lost Services

I thought is was pretty funny that the new Office of Animal Welfare attributed the shutting of shelter doors to cats to the transfer of fiscal responsibility of animal control from the state to the counties, but we all saw that it didn't really occur until mid 2011, 6 months after CAPA went into effect.  Thank goodness for screenshots, documentation, and past articles.  Guess they do have to keep our favorite politicians happy though.
"County responsibility for dog control is defined in Title 9, Chapter 9 of the Delaware Code. Prior to the passage of this law in 2010, the responsibility of dog control enforcement fell to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and was a statewide, State-funded function. DNREC contracted with the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DESPCAJ and Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (KCSPCA) to carry out enforcement and sheltering responsibilities mandated by the law. While Delaware Code only mandated dog care and control, the contracted agencies provided comprehensive animal control, including services for stray cats, nuisance wildlife, and stray livestock. Dog and kennel licensing, and Title 9, Chapter 9 code violation citations, were the intentional sources of revenue for these services, all of which proved inadequate."

No Denying The Costs Of CAPA & Still Rising 

At least they did acknowledged the rising costs that resulted after CAPA to the tune of $830,000 on the city and county level that occurred simultaneously with less services, although they did fail to mention the other $700,000 that was budgeted for the Office of Animal Welfare on the state level which brings us to a total increase of $1,530,000 costs so far. 

So yes, CAPA has been costly already, even though our level of service went down simultaneously since no shelter had the warehouse space to keep all the animals, or the legal and clerical staff to deal with all the complaints that came with taking in cats.
"The second major change over recent years is the rising cost for service. When the state held responsibility for providing dog control services, contract costs averaged $2.37 million for a full year of service. Today that cost has risen to almost $3.2 million statewide, which represents a 35% increase since 2009. Counties have not experienced a corresponding increase in revenue earmarked for these services. One reason for this increase may be the fragmentation of the service contract. Since county/city dog control contract negotiations are completed separately, there is disparity between services and their associated costs. Cost advantages that result from consolidated, large-scale operations are not being realized. Other contributing factors to cost increases include a better understanding of the true cost of enforcement and sheltering, the advancement of shelter practices to prevent disease transmission, improved access to proper veterinary care, and increased opportunities for pet-owner reunification and homeless pet adoption."
Dangerous Dogs Ignored Post CAPA & Cruel Suffering of Cats That Resulted

I'm also glad to see that they acknowledge that dangerous dog oversight went out the door with CAPA, and that it has become a cruel world for animals in the state of Delaware since CAPA.  Pretty much everything some of us have been saying for a while.
"Significant gaps in service 
The Dangerous Dog Panel has been defunct for several years, making it difficult for the dog control agencies to properly investigate cases and initiate hearings. 
Cats are a large source of public service requests, yet services previously in place are now nonexistent. Ill or injured cats are not covered under animal control contracts and, therefore, there is no response when cases are reported. This results in the unnecessary and cruel suffering of these cats and a heightened emotional response from the public. Under the Title 11, Chapter 5 animal cruelty statute, the neglect of an injured or ill cat is considered an act of cruelty to animals, indicating the seriousness of that act and indicating the need for intervention.

Animal cruelty investigation goes hand-in-hand with dog control enforcement. In fact, many dog control complaints result in animal cruelty investigations. However, since dog control services are funded and mandated, but animal cruelty services are not, response is not seamless, nor consistent, and prolonged animal suffering may result.

Animal cruelty statutes are enforced by voluntary, non-profit organizations. Services are very costly and cumbersome, and there is no funding for the work. Currently, both organizations that voluntarily enforce animal cruelty statutes are reconsidering their role in providing this service. As with dog control, this puts the State in a vulnerable position."

Market Competition - Request For Proposals Were Posted 

This was one statement that I found rather confusing and inaccurate, since every shelter had the opportunity to bid on these contracts, but they CHOSE NOT TO.  Most likely because they saw "No-Kill" dog control fail miserably under Safe Haven.  The reality is that market competition was "allowed" and the RFP process by the counties "promoted" competition.  Maybe our Senate President wants to funnel some funds to her favorite shelters without the real responsibility of handling dog control like I heard was being considered up in Wilmington earlier in the year, even though that plan ultimately died.
"The animal control structure should allow for market competition A system that is hindered by a limited number of providers or that does not promote, and allow, market competition is not sustainable."
State Plan - Or Not?

Ultimately, it sounds like the state will eventually take over dog control and spew out money to various shelters to hold the animals, as some have been talking about for some time. So then state leaders can funnel money where they choose. But in the end, all the shelters will continue to be full, and nothing will have changed other than a larger portion of our paychecks will be gone, and animals will still be left on the streets, and others will still be euthaniized.

On the bright side, I do look forward to the day when the state that created Delaware's animal welfare worst nightmare with CAPA will ultimately become the target of the people they enabled with CAPA if they do take over animal control. That will be the ultimate Karma if they are ever able to actually put state animal control in place.  But given what we've seen to date, our legislators and their minions tend to talk a good game, but the execution is usually minimal or nonexistent.
"Cost and revenue
Cost for state animal control services and animal cruelty enforcement should be shared between the State, New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties, and the City of Wilmington."
The Division of Public Health's Office of Animal Welfare should identify new or expanded sources of revenue for animal control services, including increased dog license compliance and consolidation of dog licensing services into the state model.

The Office should also make recommendations for combining rabies prevention and control and animal control contracts, allowing the State to realize cost savings and service inefficiencies. likewise, the Office of Animal Welfare should identify any other opportunities for cost savings through consolidation."
Given the fact that costs increased over $1.5 million under CAPA already, it will be interesting to see what all the additional services discussed will cost. Hopefully some funds will actually make it to the animals, rather than paying for shelters to pull files incessantly or more bureaucrats to clean up certain senators messes.  But I suspect we may just end up just replacing the current animal control officers with a state division, and that will come at a much higher cost than the the OAW since that will be 3-4 times as many people as currently working for the OAW.

Given the current budget issues on the state level, I can't imagine this will be good news for the counties with the COST SHARING PLAN, so they might want to save up and get their checkbooks ready.

I thought the final line above proclaiming cost savings through consolidation was quite Winogradian of the OAW, especially considering the fact that the rabies contract is a pittance of the dog control contracts and the fact that the additional steps taken to report and/or quarantine animals means that there will likely be very little in the way of cost savings.

Like Winograd and his claims that CAPA saves communities money, when we can obviously see it doesn't, I suppose the new office had to throw that in there to try and gain some favor in case there are any legislators that give a damn about actually living within their means on budget issues, but I think we've seen that Delaware's legislature has no problem spending our money, and will just ask for more of it when they run out the piggy bank yet again. We already know that they will pass their gas tax once elections are past, so don't be surprised if you see a hefty increase in dog licenses.