Animal shelter improvements promised at community meeting

Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2018 @ 9:50 PM

Meeting held to discuss Animal Resource Center

About 120 people — many animal welfare advocates concerned about management of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center — heard Tuesday night that the shelter’s live release will show dramatic improvement next year.

“2019 is going to be a transformative year at your shelter and it’s going to be unrecognizable in a good way, in the best way,” said Dr. Sara Pizano, creator of Team Shelter USA, who will provide the county with a host of recommendations to lower intake and reduce the number of animals euthanized.

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Shelter critics say the facility has been slow to adopt modern practices that would substantially reduce the number of companion animals that get put to death.

Pizano said saving more than 90 percent of animals should be the benchmark. Last year, the ARC rate was much lower: 56.7 percent. The number has improved this year, topping 75 percent in July, but dipping to less than 63 percent last month.

Pizano outlined ways to reduce the number of animals in shelter from an improved spay and neuter program to buttressing adoption and fostering opportunities as well as working closer with animal rescue organizations.

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Rick Fader of Kettering said he liked what he heard during the meeting at the downtown Dayton Metro Library, but said the community conversation wouldn’t be this far along if many animal rights groups hadn’t kept the county’s “feet to the fire.”

“I’ve seen nothing here but great information. I don’t see any drawbacks from it at all. I’m sure real-world we always have somewhere,” Fader said. “I would like to impress upon the county commission this is what we want to see done. We want to see change.”

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Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said the county is committed to Pizano’s review – the most extensive the shelter has undergone in 15 years.

Some steps already have been taken including canceling cat contracts with municipalities and the approval to hire a full-time outreach specialist to augment existing adoption and recruitment efforts. The county will create a timeline for implementing further recommendations, he said.

“We believe that in the first quarter to the second quarter of 2019 almost all of the steps that Dr. Pizano will recommend will be implemented,” Colbert said.

The assessment team, which began work Monday morning interviewing ARC staff, also includes Dr. Becca Boronat of the Charleston (S.C.) Animal Society, Cameron Moore from the University of Florida and Dr. Kim Sanders, director of Anderson County (S.C.) PAWS. They will conclude site work Friday and will provide a written report with recommendations within a couple of weeks.