Patton gave a report to the city council during the June 10 city council meeting regarding a recent incident where two dogs had died while they were in the city’s animal control facility. Photos of the dogs were posted online and many people expressed anger over the situation through online comments and emails to city officials.
In his report, Patton described the situation and emphasized that the dogs were fed and given water on a daily basis and the dead dogs were removed within less than a day after they had died in the facility. He said the dogs were in poor health when they were picked up and placed at the facility.
“Any suggestion that animals are neglected and become malnourished after being placed in the shelter is incorrect,” Patton said.
Lessons were learned, Patton said. Animals have been kept at the facility longer than they should have been and the shelter had not been properly secured. Severely malnourished or diseased animals should be promptly euthanized and adoption, he explained, is the best option for animals with curable health issues.
Between May 21 and June 10, 15 animals have been adopted and two were euthanized, Patton said.. There are two dogs and one litter of cats currently at the facility.
Patton recommended that the animal control department be placed under the supervision of the Kenedy Police Department, which at one time had been the case.
He also recommended that the current animal control officer be assigned exclusively to the city’s code compliance department and that the city should begin seeking qualified applicants for the position of animal control officer.
The city should work closely with volunteers and other organizations to help find homes for adoptable animals in the facility, Patton said.
“Going into this adoption, thing,” Councilman Ken Reiley said. “It is my firm belief that there are some people out there that want to adopt animals. But with the population of Karnes County, being what it is, I doubt that we will ever get to a facility where you can count on that occurring.”
Reiley asked Patton asked how long the animals should be kept before being euthanized.
Patton said they animals should be kept a minimum of three days, but not many days beyond that. He said he does not recommend keeping the animals for several weeks.
Mayor Randy Garza said the three day period should be stretched to give the animals a better chance to be adopted.
“Especially if we still have capacity – if we still have four or five kennels open,” Garza said. “I just feel like there should be some type of hope. If we give them a few extra days then maybe they will recover and then there will be somebody there to rescue them.”
Patton said he would be willing to stretch the time a few days, but if not adopted within a week, the animals should then be euthanized.
Reiley said the department should establish what the maximum capacity for the facility is, and then take whatever steps are needed to ensure that the capacity of the facility stays within that limit.
Councilman H. J. Kolinek suggested a “first in, first out” policy in regard to determining the timeline for disposal of the animals.
Police Chief Duane DuBose told the council that when the department was under the supervision of the police department, animals were routinely and often transported to places where they would have a better chance of being adopted, one time as far away as Bandera.
“We worked the phone system as best as we could, back then,” DuBose said, noting that animals were sometimes taken to the Humane Society facility in San Antonio.
Garza asked if veterinary care for animals at the facility could be considered.
“If the animal is obviously injured or diseased, there is really only one thing that needs to be done to that animal,” Patton said. “Any others, we could seek the opinion of a licensed veterinarian. We could start getting into quite an expensive operation if we do that for virtually every animal. Please keep in mind that the vast majority of animals that we recover, are not in good condition, otherwise they wouldn’t be out wandering the streets.”
Putting the animals out of their misery is the humane thing to do and important to controlling the city’s stray population, Patton said.
Reiley made a motion to place animal control under the supervision of the police department. The motion was seconded and was approved by the council. He made another motion to seek qualified applicants to fill the full time position of animal control officer. This motion was also seconded and approved by the council.
“It doesn’t make much sense to try to determine whether or not that dog is salvageable if it is going to take a month or so to recover,” Reiley said. “If we are only going to keep him 72 hours or a week at the most, then it doesn’t make much sense to take him to the vet to see if they are recoverable. I understand these are living animals, but at the same time, if you look at the purpose of the pound, the pound is to protect the public from stray animals. It is not to find a home for every stray dog in the city. It is just not a workable situation unless we are going to end up with a warehouse out there full of dogs and cats.”
“Everybody needs to be reasonable about this,” Reiley said. “And not expect something from us that we can’t provide. All that is going to do is create a bunch of hard feelings throughout the community. We don’t need that. We are trying to do a service for the community.”
Joseph Avalos, representing the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), told the council that grant funding is available that can enhance the city’s animal control program. He offered to assist the city with seeking such funding.
Loretta Thiele spoke to the council and expressed thanks to city officials who have indicated a willingness to help improve the city’s animal control department. Thiele said she and others are working to find homes for as many of the animals in the facility as possible through a network of volunteers.