On Saturday, August 18 , I was at the Tractor Supply Pet Appreciation event, set up next to April Jones, the new shelter director, who brought some shelter puppies and a dog for adoption. I gave her some of ETSN’s information, as well as cards about the Animal Resource Center low-cost veterinary clinic in Blountville, then asked if she had developed an adoption application yet. Her response was: ”No, and we probably never will.” When I asked how she made sure that the adopters could afford a pet (and the associated costs), or that the animal wouldn’t end up on a chain, or used as bait for dogfighters, or worse, her response was, ”As a municipal shelter, that is not our concern.” Excuse me, but if it’s not the shelter’s concern who gets an animal, or what happens to it, can someone tell me exactly who’s concern it is?
When I informed Ms. Jones that over the past three years and over 200 vouchers that I personally administered for animals adopted from the shelter, that 99 percent of the people who got free animals at adoption events never had them fixed or inoculated, she shrugged her shoulders and indicated that well, that’s just going to happen sometimes.
After hearing how important state law is to Ms. Jones (in the Hokie adoption debacle), I would have thought that the state law requiring all shelter animals be spayed or neutered would be a high priority for her. I’m pretty disappointed that it doesn’t seem to be.
When I said that Unicoi and Johnson City both have application forms, she said, ”They just rubberstamp them.” In other words, according to her, in both Unicoi and JC, anyone who wants an animal gets one. I know that this was not the case under the previous director at Unicoi, and according to people I know who have adopted from Johnson City, that is not how it is done there either.
I recently had a conversation with a woman from a rescue in Bristol who has pretty much stopped taking dogs from Elizabethton because, according to her, April has made it more difficult for them to get the dogs. If this is true, why? I thought we wanted a director who would actively work with rescues to get as many pets into new homes as possible.
Weren’t we looking for a shelter director who was going to change how things have always been done here in Carter County? How will we ever move toward a no-kill situation if things stay the same? The shelter stays full in large part because of the shelter’s own policies and the high cost of spay-neuter surgery in our county.
We CAN have a no-kill community, if we implement programs and procedures designed to that end, and they do not have to be expensive. We need something more productive than giving out unaltered pets to people who can’t afford to care for them properly. If we keep doing that, we WILL need a bigger area in the shelter to lay out the dead dogs, as Ms. Jones requested in the building plans.
ETSN has already tried to implement programs that are designed to move us toward being a no-kill COMMUNITY — but we have a hard time getting support — why is that? These are programs that can be very effective for very little cost — but we need PEOPLE to put them into action.
We should have a 100 percent spay-neuter requirement for shelter adoptions as per state law (including puppies/kittens), community education BEFORE adoption, aggressive rescue and foster coordination, qualified adoptions, improved procedures (including quarantine so we stop spreading disease), and an active community outreach program to help families who love their pets but are in financial distress.
We can’t wait until the new shelter is built…the animals need our help NOW.
We can do it if we all work together!
East TN Spay & Neuter