Monday, July 30, 2007

Kings County Audit

Kings County Animal Control
Operational Compliance Audit Review

The Board of Supervisors and County Officials publicly addressed animal control issues documented in recent operational audits while members of the community are not convinced recommended changes made by UC Davis and Animal Match Rescue Team, Inc. ( will be made.

- Recommended changes from the audits are in Bold
- Kings County responses are in italics
- Kara Johnson's comments are in blue

By Kara Johnson - Jul 24, 2007
Used by Permission

The meeting today could not have been more proof that the Sheriff's Department is not willing to change or improve the facility in any substantial way. From small issues to large, they completely disregarded the audit reports. Chief Board Member Tony Barba even stated that while some of the suggestions from AMRT were good, others were going to have to be adapted or disregarded all together because "some of the ideas may work for big cities, but not for them." The report was specifically tailored for Kings County- expressing this thought opens up the idea that the Board/Sheriff's Dept. knows better than AMRT and that some of their ideas are not good ones.

In short, the county paid $30,000 for audits that they are not willing to use because they think they know better than the experts who have evaluated the shelter. They could not be more wrong.

Here's a list of the recommendations and the the response of the Sheriff's Department, word for word from their proposal: (I put the legal violations first, the others just show their lack of commitment)

11. Stop using drop boxes. Keep boxes locked during normal business hours.

The drop boxes are locked during normal business hours. This requires anyone wishing to deposit an animal at Animal Services to come in and complete the required paperwork. We are replacing the existing, antiquated drop boxes with new stainless steel boxes. Discontinuing the use of the boxes all together would remove a service that the public has come to expect and could equate to more "dumped" animals.

The Sheriff did NOT mention that both of the audits strongly recommended stopping usage of the drop boxes. When I spoke with him afterward, he stated that they were not illegal and they would be keeping them. AMRT did a great job of emphasizing how extremely hot/cold the drop boxes can get and UC Davis outlined how they are "impossible" to properly keep clean.

33. Do not perform owner-requested euthanasia unless the animal meets specific requirements.

These would be old, injured, sick animals. All other dogs that are healthy and in good condition would be held for adoption.

This is illegal! They have to hold all animals for a minimum holding period unless they are irremediably suffering. The law specifically states that old and injured animals are adoptable. What they are saying is that they will continue to "sell" euthanasia and anyone with an old dog can bring it in and have it euthanized that day. This is in complete violation of the holding period mandated by law.

60. Develop procedures for scanning vicious/aggressive animals.

We scan all animals upon intake.

This is not true - AMRT made this recommendation because KCAC submitted a kennel card to them on which Norma stated she couldn't scan the cat because it was feral and euthanized it. AMRT raised an excellent point- why wasn't the cat scanned when it was sedated prior to euthanasia? It's perfectly easy to do it then.

67. Do not impose $50 surrender fee.

The fee is viewed as a way to force pet owners to become more responsible for their pets, and not consider them as disposable. This is a new fee, and we believe that it is a good idea.

Is this legal? Can they charge a fee as a county-run shelter? If it is legal, it's a terrible idea. Why is it that closing the drop boxes will "encourage the dumping of animals," but not charging a $50 fee?
Earlier this year we related the story of Animal Control's charge of $50 to pick up stray animals. A man wanted a feral cat and her kittens removed from her washroom and because they were going to charge him $50, he hit her over the head with a shovel and dumped her and the litter in an alley. This is what's going to happen with the owner surrender fee.

71. Change the 2007-2009 master fee schedule amounts for redeemed animals to apply to unspayed and unneutered animals only.

Will review.

The law specifically dictates that impounded animals who are unspayed/unneutered have an additional fee tacked on. They are currently not doing so- charging the same impound fees for all animals.

16. Two people should participate in euthanasia per the National Animal Control Association’s policy statement. Logs should have place to add impound number from animal. Remove euthanized animal after verifying death.

Our euthanasia procedure is within the guideline of state law and statutes.

19. Establish that spay and neuter is a priority.

While it is certainly agreed that spay and neuter is a priority, animal control also wishes to educate the public that this is as much a person problem as it is an animal problem.

29. Work with Chameleon to ensure each animal's correct available date is recorded in the system. Consider displaying each animal's euthanasia date on the kennel card.

It is our goal to use chameleon to its fullest capacity. Although an animal's holding period may have expired that does not mean that is its euthanasia date. Listing a "date of death" seems macabre; we list an available date on kennel cards.

This is absolutely not true- AMRT pointed out that available dates of all owner surrenders were incorrect . . . and they still are! Available dates for litters are incorrect and almost all of the animals are killed the morning that they are legally able to do so.

39. Prior to euthanasia, release animals to rescue groups. Designate an employee to work with rescue groups. Establish cooperative agreements with rescue groups.

It has always been our position that rescue can take every animal in the shelter, if they are available.

This is absolutely untrue- we have had more trouble than we've ever had when we've tried to rescue recently. We have since stopped rescuing from them because they make it so difficult with their snotty attitudes and arbitrary rules.

55. Establish outreach programs to provide humane education. Represent the shelter at local events. Reach out to the community with monthly column, advertisements, etc. Consider a newsletter. Hold occasional fundraisers at the shelter.

It is our intention to provide education to the public on humane issues. Also we want to publicize Animal Services as a place to look for and adopt a pet. We would not want to hold a fund raiser at Animal Services for liability reasons and because fund raising for local government seems odd.

58. Begin a trap, neuter, release program in communities with a large number of feral cats. Let the public know the shelter will work with feral cat givers.

We currently treat feral cats within the guidelines and parameters of state law and regulations. The County will not adopt a feral cat "trap and release" program.

64. Vaccinate all animals on intake.

Dogs are vaccinated upon intake, cats are not. Records indicate that cats are received by animal control in large numbers but are not adopted the same way. Vaccination of cats is not an issue to maintain current Animal Services feline population healthy. We do vaccinate prior to adoption.

73. Establish a "healthy" area for animals that we know will leave shelter soon after arrival. Just a few cages are needed.

We consider the entire shelter area, excluding the sick ward, to be healthy.

3. Develop an updated and accurate mission statement. Use this statement to define goals and priorities. Display in public area.

Currently Animal Control falls under the Mission and Value statement of the Sheriff's Office. As a division of the Sheriff's Office any Animal Control specific Mission/Value statement adopted should contain some relevant parts of the Sheriff's Office Mission statement relevant to "customer service." Also verbiage regarding the ethical and humane treatment of animals.

4. Adopt a logo rather than a Sheriff's star. Something like a cute animal head.

Currently all Animal Control vehicles have a small Sheriff's Office star and the words Animal Control on them. The Sheriff's star on the side with the words "Kings County Animal Services" would accurately reflect the department. Perhaps a motto "protecting the rights of animals" with some type of animal logo on the rear quarter panel.

Kara Johnson
California Underdog Rescue & Education (CURE)