Concho Valley PAWS Response to City's Crisis Letter: Disheartened, Betrayed & Defeated

 

SAN ANGELO – The City of San Angelo released a statement Tuesday regarding the status of the San Angelo animal shelter.  The information confirmed that San Angelo will no longer be a no-kill community due to constant overpopulation.

The shelter will have until Nov. 30 to reduce the population inside of the shelter from 183 dogs to 125 dogs. If they do not find homes for the animals, then some animals will ultimately be destroyed. For more see: BREAKING: San Angelo Animal Shelter to Resume Euthanizing Animals After Recent Controversy

After the news broke, the Executive Director for Concho Valley PAWS penned a letter from PAWS showing their opinion on the issue. The following is that letter.

In response to yesterday's alarming announcement from city leadership regarding capping the shelter population and implementing a maximum length of stay, Concho Valley PAWS Board of directors has released a letter to the community voicing their concerns and disappointment.  That letter is below.  

Dear Friends,  

Concho Valley PAWS is incredibly concerned and disheartened by today’s press release issued by the City of San Angelo.  The city is imposing a population cap of 125 dogs and 50 cats to be housed at any one time in the city shelter with a maximum length of stay at just three months.   

This arbitrary cap doesn’t make any allowances for neo-nates or mothers with litters.  If a mother dog and five nursing puppies are taking up only one kennel it still counts as 6 animals of the 125 allowed.  This cap includes bite quarantine dogs or seized animals that are on a court mandated hold that could last up to 20 days or longer further limiting the space available for adoptable dogs and cats.   

This issue brought many tears to our team tonight as most of us serving as board members or staff have beloved pets in our homes that were dogs or cats that would not be alive today had these caps been in place.  The thought made us shudder that our beloved pets could have been killed simply because a draconian approach to animal control was implemented.   

Concho Valley PAWS is not against a reasonable maximum capacity policy but 125 dogs and 50 cats without any accommodations for medical hold, quarantine or court mandated stays is not logical for a community of this size. This decision will result in the return to the capture and kill philosophy reverting the shelter back to a high-kill facility.  All the work invested by our staff and volunteers, the financial investments made by our donors and the success in life saving programs over the last five years will be lost.  But much worse than all that, THOUSANDS OF ANIMALS will die simply because they were homeless.   

Last week, Concho Valley PAWS reached out via email to our city’s manager, Daniel Valenzuela requesting a meeting.  However, PAWS has yet to receive a response to that email.   

As a contracted partner with the city, we felt it was appropriate and important for us to be a part of a dialogue to ensure a comprehensive understanding of this complex issue.  We agree that part of the problem is too many animals. Yet, a bigger part of the issue is the community’s failure to get their pets spayed or neutered.  There are also problems with shelter staffing and turn-over and just implementing more efficient methods.

PAWS has always acknowledged and respected that the shelter and the animals housed there are the “legal property of the City of San Angelo”.  We’ve stayed in our lane, happy to save lives via adoption, transport and providing emergency care.  However, this decision directly impacts our ability to save lives.  That is what we were contracted to do.  Today we were denied even the professional courtesy of a phone call.  We learned through a press release that our joint initiative to save lives had been abandoned. 

The PAWS mission is to save lives and if that remains a priority to the City of San Angelo, we will be here to support the shelter however we can.  We agree that changes need to be made.  The photos of the conditions circulating on social media are unacceptable.  We had hoped to work together to make the City shelter a better place for animals and the people who love them.   Yet, today’s decision will require us to reevaluate our position as these changes do not align with our mission.  But rest assured, we will not abandon these animals or our commitment to this work.  We will always fight to save every life possible.  We know we are their voice.

PAWS has brought in professional industry leaders to discuss implementing programming and protocols that could make the shelter more efficient.  Based on those recommendations, Concho Valley PAWS made offers to construct outdoor kennel space to assist with cleaning protocols.  Our offers were not accepted.  Our veterinary team has suggested a change in food that would result in less and more solid waste to help make cleaning easier.  As of now, it seems that suggestion has fallen on deaf ears.

More importantly, Concho Valley PAWS has asked consistently for better enforcement of the spay and neuter ordinance.  Did you know that most the shelter’s current residents are under one year of age?  This points to the root of the problem.  We will not stop advocating for our community leaders to empower the shelter staff to enforce the existing ordinance which requires all pets to be spayed or neutered.

Killing animals for space should never be considered a solution.  It is not.  Killing for space should only be considered after exhausting all other efforts.  Can the city say they have tried everything?  We do not feel they have.  We will continue to seek other solutions and we will continue to do all we can to be heard.

We drafted this letter because we want our animal loving friends to know that tonight, we hurt with you.  We are disappointed.  We feel sad and even a little betrayed and defeated.  But we won’t stop fighting.  If you agree with us that killing is not the answer, please reach out to your city council representative and city leadership.  Tell them you value animal life and these animals deserve better!  PAWS is here and ready to support any positive change city leadership wants to make, but this is not the answer.

Now, more than ever before, we need our community to step up in a big way.  We need fosters!  Fostering can help save lives now and buy us time as we unapologetically demand a seat at the table to discuss these issues.

Please say a prayer for the animals and for the city leaders who are tasked with life and death decisions.  There is a better way.

Sincerely,

PAWS Staff & Board of Directors 

  • Jenie Wilson, Executive Director 
  • Patricia Hines, President 
  • Kim Stealey, Vice President 
  • Mary Wilson, Treasurer 
  • Elizabeth Jost, Secretary 
  • Erica Bailey 
  • Robyn Runge 
  • Tammy Lippe 
  • Teresa Adams 
  • Cenny Flores 
  • Patricia New 

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Za Za, Wed, 09/14/2022 - 13:13

This will not stop until you prosecute the backyard breeders.

They have made it almost free to spay and neuter your pets.  Some folks are just plain lazy.  If you let your pet reproduce then this is on your hands.  Animal control needs to start responding to all these free puppy/kitten post and issue fines along with community service.  Jail them for a 2nd offense.  Yes, the shelter is a dirty and overcrowded place because of the lack of enforcement and asshats that think the law does not apply to them.  

I would like to rescind my previous comment about this issue. I recommended the head of animal control be held in urine and feces cages just like the animals they hold captive. Reading the above trials and tribulations of a shelter in dire need and overwhelming desire to save as many lives as possible, I realize I may have been hasty in judgement. My apologies... 

 

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