Last summer, I asked Health Director Pam Walker to evaluate the City's new animal control partnership with Stray Rescue. Pam found that in every way possible, the partnership resulted in improved animal care and animal control. There have been fewer stray dogs on our streets, fewer complaints about stray dogs, more adoptions and fewer dogs euthanized.
I also asked Pam to listen to neighbors and aldermen, and use their constructive comments to identify where the effort could be improved
Pam came to several conclusions, which she used to frame the next steps in stray rescue and animal control in the City of St. Louis.
The City put too much responsibility on Stray Rescue.
Irresponsible pet owners who allowed their dogs to run free or who abandoned them are a much more prevalent problem than feral dogs.
There are residents who love their animals but cannot afford to take good care of them.
Working with several dog loving aldermen -Flowers, Krewson, Conway, and Ogilvie ' Pam has published a document she calls Phase II.
Here are some key elements:Invest the Animal House fund as it was intended to help create a humane shelter at Stray RescueIncrease the number of City animal control specialists on the streets to pick up strays and, more importantly, to cite irresponsible pet owners who put their neighbors at risk.Increase kennel capacity and take pressure off of Stray Rescue by opening a City owned and operated facility.Improve communications among Animal Control, the Citizens Service Bureau, and the Police Department to improve response time to dangerous animal calls.Expand adoption-in-place to help low-income families keep their pets.Allow pet owners to surrender their unwanted dogs.Create and manage a lost dog registry.Produce written agreements with our non-profit partners.
This Phase II plan is fiscally responsible. It will further improve animal control. Most importantly, it will result in more humane treatment of dogs. Pam will be able to pay for most elements of the plan with existing resources. However, we still must identify about $250,000 to carry out everything.
I want to thank Director Pam Walker and the Health Department for their diligence. The people of St. Louis owe so much to Randy Grim, his staff, and SR volunteers for their love of dogs.
I also want to thank members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen who helped draft this plan - Dionne Flowers, Lyda Krewson, Steve Conway, and Scott Ogilvie - for their passion, commitment and great ideas.