The City's animal control facility on Gasconade is worn out, well past the point that any reasonable investment could fix it. The City's historic philosophy of animal control is also worn out. Few of us now believe that capture-and-kill is a humane policy. Yet, the challenges at the facility, include severe limitations of space, supported a continuation of a bad policy. In the end, I ordered the facility to be closed as soon as possible and asked Pam Walker, the Health Director, to find an alternative.
An effort to raise money for a new state-of-the-art facility foundered. A request for proposals by local not-for-profits to take over the operation of a facility drew a little interest and lot of new and complex problems.
But, Pam, her friends in the animal rescue and welfare communities, and a cadre of volunteers were not deterred. They proposed a three-point plan:
Increase capacity - through transfers and a new facility
Treat our animals humanely - through management, policy and nutrition changes and a new facility
Promote adoption and spay /neuter - through PSAs, marketing strategies, events, partnerships and a new facility
Every element of that plan is working. And Pam expects to be out of the Gasconade facility, and the animal killing business, by the end of the year. No animals were euthanized for non-medical reasons last week. A request for assistance to area rescue groups resulted in the transfer of 23 perfectly wonderful cats and dogs. Great stories on KTVI (Channel 2) and KWMU caused a spike in adoptions, adoption requests, and spaying.
A note from Pam captures how we all feel: "the change in atmosphere at the shelter is almost physical. It's like the sun came up or something. Everyone is smiling, lots of positive energy and the place just does not seem so dark and sad any more."
I like the direction of this story.