City, Animal Shelter Commission Differ On "Disaster" Year at Dallas Animal Services
|From our slideshow here|
But nice things first: The memo is, in part, encouraging. Turner notes that adoptions and rescues are on the rise, loose dog complaints and impoundments have decreased, and Delia Jasso's "Dallas Loves Animals" initiative is set to launch on February 12 at the Westmoreland Road shelter. And then, well, there's Turner's summary of the HSUS report, which I suspected animal welfare workers and Animal Shelter Commission members might find a tad disingenuous in the way it highlights "an obvious dichotomy" between ASC goals and city council and community goals and ignores repeated HSUS calls for a management overhaul.
"Key findings in the report included the need for additional written standard operating procedures, the need to reconcile an obvious dichotomy between the City Council's goals and the goals of the Animal Shelter Commission as well as the animal welfare community, and recommendations for improvements in the use of equipment and maintenance of the shelter facility."Clearly DAS has had a number of problems over the years, and leadership there and at Dallas City Hall has often conflicted with an ASC that has sometimes felt ignored and marginalized by memos just like these. But to say that there's an "obvious dichotomy" paints the ASC as some kind of nutty super-PETA, instead of a group of rescue workers and activists who don't think "catch, cage, kill" is a good solution to animal overpopulation, which has been the M.O. of some council members over the years. If the ASC's beliefs about animal treatment are a problem -- and I am hardly convinced they are -- then city management needs to reexamine its definition of "problem."
Any "obvious dichotomy" between the ASC and the city that exists oughta be way, way down on the totem pole considering the fact that, ten years ago, the HSUS cited poor management as a top problem at DAS. Then, they said practically the same thing again last year during their second audit. Somehow, Turner makes no reference to "ineffective leadership in the management ranks" and staffers "repeatedly" expressing alienation from "managers and supervisors who used retaliatory disciplinary actions."
That sounds like a little bit more of an urgent issue than a political squabble with an advisory commission, no?
Dallas animal rights activist and communications director at the Metroplex Animal Coalition, Jonnie England, who I also interviewed for the cover story, also finds Turner's omission curious. I e-mailed her the memo -- it wasn't copied to ASC members or even ASC Chairman Skip Trimble -- to get her thoughts. She wrote back to me:
It's unbelievable that Mr. Turner continues to tout what he believes were the three "key findings" in the HSUS report, one of which is his personal opinion that there is a "dichotomy between the City Council's goals and the goals of the Animal Shelter Commission ...." It's just mind boggling that he steadfastly ignores the 251 serious issues and problems facing Dallas and Dallas Animal Services. Those were spelled out so clearly in the Commission's Annual Report to the Council.Interested parties can check out the Animal Shelter Commission's Annual Report below. In it, the ASC calls a year in which a cat was allowed to starve to death within shelter walls and three workers were put on paid leave for animal cruelty or mistreatment a "disaster." Forest Turner refused to use that word when I interviewed him a few weeks ago. But this memo indicates that there seem to be a lot of words Turner refuses to use. Like, say, "bad management." Jan 28 DAS memo to Dallas City Council Animal Shelter Commission Report 09-10