Monday, April 4, 2011

Update on Licking County Animal Shelter

Letter to the Editor of The Buckeye Lake Beacon
From "Watchdog" Bonnie Mansfield
April 2, 2011 Edition

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An update on the Licking County Animal Shelter


I want the public to be aware of what is going on at the pound under the reign of the current dog warden, John Silva. While I am THRILLED the gas chamber is gone, our battle is not quite over.

John Silva is from Cuyahoga County where his retirement wasn’t official until a few days after he came to work at Licking County Animal Shelter (the dog pound) as the Office Manager. The County Commissioners put Silva in this position (at the request of a former employee in March, 2009) and gave him about $10,000 more than the former Office Manager was making.

Silva has limited the intake at the pound to almost only stray owner surrendered other animals. He is basically doing the bare-bones minimum BUT made sure the dog license fees went up by a whopping 50% as well as increases in other fees (adoption costs, impound fees, etc.)! They no longer do humane calls which made up probably close to half of their prior calls. I believe the increase in dogs being hit by a car is substantial and possibly due to being turned loose (such as when someone loses their home) thinking they have no other option!

By March 23, in 2009, there were 457 dogs taken in; by March 23, 2010 intake was 336 dogs; and by March 23 of this year the pound has only taken in 277 dogs since Silva is running the pound and only taking in strays.

I received a call at about 10 o’clock one morning, a couple of weeks ago, regarding a dog hit by a car still lying in the road alive. The caller stated that he had tried to call the pound but they were not answering the phone. I reached them about 20 minutes later and was told they don’t answer the phone until 9:30. I informed the employee that the caller had only called 20 minutes ago. I told the employee the condition of the dog and that I already had someone on the scene. I asked her if they would have it seen by a vet. She said they would but didn’t have anyone to respond. I stated that I would transport the dog to their vet and she told me that the dog had to come to the pound first! We ended the conversation and I was frustrated knowing this dog was in serious condition and also knowing there would probably be a huge vet bill that I could not afford to bear. The employee called me back and said she was coming to get the dog. However, another employee (who was already in the area) showed up at the scene and the dog was taken out of our vehicle and placed in the pound’s van! As infuriating as this mess was, it wasn’t nearly as maddening as when I found out that some of the pound employees were at work on Facebook (PERSONAL PAGES) early in the morning when they WEREN’T ANSWERING THE PHONES!!

For the past year, several volunteers have been coming to the pound to help the animals. They clean cages, walk dogs, scoop cat litter, mop floors, bathe dogs, groom dogs, take pictures, update websites...whatever needs to be done. Not only is this helping the animals, it also helps Silva’s image. When a kind-hearted volunteer greets the public, it makes them want to come back and spend money!

Although our tax dollars were spent to build a pound and equip it to house at least 64 cats in the 2 cat rooms, Silva rarely takes cats. He wouldn’t allow cats from a hoarding situation to remain at the pound for more than 12 hours.

Some of the cages in one of the cat rooms were removed and put out in back of the pound for awhile (I’m not sure where they are now). Doors were taken off some of the cages that remained inside. The room was called the “Vet Room.” I have received several complaints from people who have adopted animals from the pound MONTHS AGO who are still waiting for the spay/neuter surgery to be performed. Remember... they have already paid for this service in the cost of the adoption ($100 per dog/$55 per cat).

I told Silva that I have at least one veterinarian that will come to the pound and spay/neuter animals for the fee that the public pays when they adopt an animal. It wouldn’t take much to set up the “vet room” to do these surgeries.

Silva responded to my idea with a lot of condescending babble claiming that they have a “potential secondary source for altering cats” and “the shelter is able to provide adoption customers with more definitive S/N appointment information and avoid confusion” and “our written communication regarding surgery also factors in periodic surges of adoption activity” and other statements that are just cover-up and a way of saying ‘thanks... but no thanks!’ Silva’s last line was “It’s all about teamwork!”

TEAMWORK? An upcoming adoption event had been planned to help adopt the few cats at the pound. Had the adoption event coming up not been canceled, I have been told that Silva would have made these VOLUNTEERS (that have been working for him and the pound) pay $55 IN ADVANCE for cats they took to the adopt-a-thon for the pound! Where’s the teamwork there, Silva?

Bonnie Mansfield
Buckeye Lake

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