Garza said he received many email messages about the situation at the city pound, most of which were from out of state.
The department’s annual budget of $71,000 doesn’t go far, Garza explained. At one time dog and cat food was donated, but now it is an expense paid by the city.
“Providing food is a basic need,” Garza said. “City employees should never hesitate to go to Walmart and get these animals food. Without question, that has to be done.”
Garza said he has made it clear to city employees that dog and cat food is to be purchased whenever needed.
Veterinary care for animals in the facility, has never really been an option, due to the financial limitations of the department’s budget, Garza said. The animals are almost always in poor health, and vet bills can become extremely expensive very quickly. Garza said the animals aren’t bathed at this time, either, due to the limitations of the department.
The issue of vet care will be considered by the city council during their June 10 meeting, Garza said. The agenda for the meeting includes an agenda item for a city manager’s report on the incident and recommendations, as well as possible discussion and action on the item.
“It (vet care) is really not part of the budget,” Garza said. “It is unfortunate that it is not. If we do pick them up and take them in to be examined... how far do we go?”
The other consideration is the euthanasia and disposal of animals that are not claimed or adopted. While some are adopted, Garza said the majority are eventually euthanized.
The city at one time used a gas chamber for this purpose, but changes in state law now require euthanasia by injection administered by the city’s animal control officer.
State law requires that the department hold the animals for a minimum of 72 hours, but according to Garza, the animals typically stay in the city’s facility much longer than that, and euthanasia is only used a last resort when space in the pens at the facility becomes limited, or when it is the most humane option as determined by the animal control officer.
“We do meet all the state requirements,” Garza said. “As a matter of fact, the state just came through unannounced in February and we passed with great reviews. We met all the requirements.”
Garza wants the city’s animal control department to go above and beyond the minimum state requirements, however, and he said he would support increased funding for the department during the upcoming budget process. He hopes to improve training opportunities for the city’s animal control officer and employ an officer who is able and willing to give full time and attention to the department. Currently, the city’s officer splits his time between animal control and duties working with the city’s building permits department.
“We are definitely not experts on this issue,” Garza said, adding that he was open to any suggestions from anyone. “A lot of people who emailed me, they are outraged. Being that they are very passionate about it, I know that they know exactly how it should be run, and we don’t know what they know. We need them on our side.”
Garza said he has been trying for a while to find a full time animal control officer, but so far has been unable to fill the position with someone who has the drive and passion to run the department in the best way possible. He is hopeful that soon a highly qualified person can be hired by the city to run the department.
“There will definitely be consideration of increasing that budget,” Garza said. “I’m still looking for that person that wants to contract out, or someone who can come in so that we can do it right this time. We are pretty much putting our budget together now, and now would be a good time to have a person come in.”
Volunteers are also encouraged, Garza said, and these efforts are moving forward, especially over the past few weeks.
A donation box has been set up at Dynasty Enterprises, located at 105 S. Sunset Strip in Kenedy, for donations of food, treats, toys, cleaning supplies, blankets or other items. The items, once dropped off, will then be delivered to the city’s animal control facility for use at the facility.
A Facebook page titled “Kenedy Animal Shelter Dogs” was set up May 25, and photos of dogs at the facility are posted there along with information about how to adopt the dogs in the facility. The page has already received 2,045 “likes” since it was started.
See www.facebook.com/kenedyanimalshelter for more information and details.