Earlier this year, I moved the City out of the animal shelter business. We just did not do it well ' for animals or for taxpayers.
The City closed its outdated and inhumane facility last summer, and we found new community partners to take in, treat, and adopt the City's strays. Since July 19, 2010, Stray Rescue, our closest partner, has accepted 200 dogs from the City pound, and rescued an additional 1,239 dogs. That puts Stray Rescue on the path to take in roughly 1000 more dogs in 2010 than the City did in 2009. Furthermore, the City euthanized 1,033 dogs last year. Stray Rescue has only put down nine dogs, all because of untreatable medical conditions. Stray Rescue, on average, adopts 120 dogs per month. The City adopted 284 dogs in an entire year.
The partnership is working well, but there are some things the City has to do to make it work better.
The majority of dog bites come from pets, not stray or feral animals. To keep both citizens and animals safe, acting Health Director Pam Walker is now drafting a series of initiatives that aim at encouraging ' and enforcing ' responsible pet ownership. We will consider those next year.
To start now, the City's Animal Control Officers will begin issuing tickets with fines from $100 (for the first offense) to $500 (for subsequent violations) of City animal laws and ordinances. These ordinances include, but are not limited to, violations of dogs running at large, untagged dogs, and un-vaccinated animals. The City will also enforce animal abuse violations, like illegal chaining and dog fighting. I liked the way Pam Walker explained the change: "We used to punish the dog by taking them out of the situation by euthanizing them. Now it is time to hold irresponsible pet owners accountable." Also, Stray Rescue is now staffing an Animal Abuse Hotline: (314) 771-6121 x232 to report instances of abuse.
I will update this report soon.