Community Waits for County’s Solution to Running a Compliant Animal Shelter That Doesn’t Kill More than 80% of their Cats and 41% of the Dogs that Come in their Doors
In January of 2014, seven rescue groups stepped in and took more than 50 cats from the Saginaw County Animal Care Center due to an outbreak of an upper respiratory virus at the shelter. The largest number of animals ever released by the shelter, they were trying to control the outbreak of the disease and the rescue groups didn’t want the shelter to have a mass euthanization. Their worries are justified when you read the statistics of the shelter and that 80% or more of the cats that come in their facility are killed whether they are sick or not. (see below)
This episode follows an outbreak of kennel cough with dogs in November of 2013. You can read more about the story here.
Right now the shelter doesn’t have a permanent director as Director Kevin Wilken is on paid administration leave. There is currently an investigation underway into his conduct as well as conditions at the shelter. The State is investigation poor sanitation at the shelter as well as improper disposal of dead animals and other issues. Their compliance hearing is set for Friday, March 7th in Lansing. The investigation into Wilken’s conduct includes an internal review by the county which is tied to the investigation being done by the Dept. of Agriculture and the Michigan State Police. You can find more information about the investigation here.
What has been going on and how many animals are being killed at the Saginaw County Animal Shelter? Information on intake and euthanasia is available through the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture for any registered animal shelter in Michigan and can be found at the bottom of this webpage here.
The most recent available information on the shelter is for 2012, as the 2013 information will not be released until this Spring. You can read the entire reports for Saginaw from 2010 through 2012 here.
Dogs taken in: 2257
Dogs killed: 947 – 41.9%
Cats taken in: 2495
Cats killed: 1997 – 80%
Dogs taken in: 2112
Dogs killed: 1103 (216 were 6 mos. or younger) – 52.2%
Cats taken in: 2385
Cats killed: 1963 (952 were 6 mos. or younger) – 82.3%
Dogs taken in: 2657
Dogs killed: 1476 (216 were 6 mos. or younger) – 55.5%
Cats taken in: 2793
Cats killed: 2256 (910 were 6 mos. or younger) – 84.3%
The budget for Saginaw’s animal shelter in 2012 was $800,091 and the amount budgeted for 2013 was $902,012. You can see their 2013 budget here as well as see the number of complaints made, animals reclaimed and other statistical information.
When I visited their Petfinder site, there were NO animals listed in the database when I clicked on the “Adoptable Dogs” or “Adoptable Cats” links. The only animals I saw on this site were the four animals featured on home page and the nine links on the bottom of the page. How are cats and dogs supposed to make it out of the shelter alive if no one knows there are there? Petfinder allows someone to search for specific pets in their area to see if there is a match – or they can just “browse” the pets available but it looks like the county is not utilizing one of their best sources to get adopters to come into the shelter. What if there is someone in Ohio looking for a female Border Collie who is over the age of four years old and this shelter has one? That person searching for that specific dog won’t know it’s at the shelter and it’s quite likely that the dog will be killed even though it could have found a home if the Petfinder site was being utilized. If you type in on the site that you are looking for a dog in the Saginaw area, you will not receive a current listing of the animals available at the Saginaw County Animal Care Center.
It appears that people can search for pets at the shelter on county site but I have to wonder how many people utilize that resource besides the rescue groups who want to know which animals are at the shelter?
What is the answer? Is there an answer? Yes. There is something called the “No Kill Equation” that is followed by animal shelters all over the country with great success. It was developed by No-Kill advocate and attorney, Nathan Winograd from the No Kill Advocacy Center.
There is no reason to re-invent the wheel when there are solutions out there to follow. However, it all starts with a compassionate and creative director. If an animal shelter doesn’t have that, the other programs can’t be realized. County shelters need the support of the public for changes to be made – volunteers, advocates, transporters, foster homes and people willing to attend county meetings and keep their government accountable both for the lives of the animals in their care and the good use of their taxpayer dollars.
There is also a “friends of” group that is trying to save the animals at the shelter and are involved in trying to move forward with positive changes in their county. Their Facebook page is here.
Their is another Facebook group here that networks adoptable pets at the shelter here.
Additionally there is a rescue group in the Saginaw area here.
The next County Commissioners meeting (County Services Committee) is on Tuesday, March 4th at 4 pm. Meetings are at the Saginaw County Governmental Center, 2nd floor, Room 215. Their full schedule for the year can be found by clicking on this PDF. If you feel that you and the animals deserve a compassionate director for the cats and dogs at the Saginaw County Animal Care Center – someone who will utilize the No Kill Equation, please start attending their meetings and speak up during their public comment period.
If you can’t attend a meeting, email the Commissioners here.