Gary fights online animal shelter petition with needs assessment
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com June 19, 2013 7:02PM
Save a Dog Rescue
Updated: July 22, 2013 6:22PM
GARY — Animal Rescue Corps will perform a weeklong needs assessment of Gary Animal Control, at the request of Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, after a local rescue director launched a change.org petition requesting that the facility and services be transferred to Lake County Animal Control.
In a statement, Freeman-Wilson said the current animal control facility is inadequate for the volume of animals that come through its doors and the building is unable to provide an effective quarantine area for infected animals. The facility contains 50 indoor kennels and 25 outside kennels However, she has been advised that Lake County cannot handle the volume of animals — four to eight — that Gary impounds on a daily basis. In 2012, Gary Animal Control impounded 1,092 dogs and 423 cats.
However, she has been advised that Lake County cannot handle the volume of dogs that Gary impounds on a daily basis.
“Our first priority is to provide a safe and sanitary location for these animals to dwell until rescued,” she said in the statement. “Ideally, we want to keep these vital services here in our community. A city of Gary’s size and population deserves it.”
The petition, which details the disease outbreaks and high euthanization rates that plague the pound, was launched by Save A Dog Rescue director Char Swift.
In 2012, animal control sent out 680 animals to rescue groups. Swift had been pulling dogs from the pound for years and even built a quarantine area for sick dogs at her house, but a recent parvovirus outbreak at the pound was the last straw.
“A few weeks ago, an outbreak happened and we rescued three dogs who have so far not contracted the disease,” Swift said. “A bunch more came in the week following, but when I called they said no we can’t release them. On Monday, I called again and they said they’re not letting us take the dogs. On Tuesday, we found out that they euthanized all of the dogs, which I was initially told was eight dogs and now they’re backtracking. At least one of those dogs had a rescue and I willing to bring the dog home and quarantine it.”
The facility has had two confirmed parvovirus outbreaks this year. Swift said the facility isn’t adequately testing dogs for parvovirus, giving them the test within a day of administering the 7-in-1 vaccine, which leads to many false positives for parvo.
“They just seem to euthanize when they feel like it,” she said. “And we know for sure they don’t use sedation when they euthanize.”
Freeman-Wilson said the Animal Control team is developing a contingency plan to immediately address housing for the animals, which will be announced by July 1. From July 8-12, Animal Rescue Corps president Scotlund Haisley will visit the facility to conduct a free assessment of all elements of the Gary Animal Control’s operations. Once the assessment is complete, recommendations will be made to the Bissell Pet Foundation on how it can help implement the findings. Freeman-Wilson said she hopes the process will lead to the construction of a new facility, renovating the existing building or finding an alternate location in the city.
Freeman-Wilson said animal control workers are trained and certified to handle animals and operate the facility, but Swift said it’s obvious that they have not had training in how to prevent contagious diseases from spreading.
“(A volunteer) has pulled dogs and put them in the back seat of car to transport,” Swift said. “You don’t do that because the next dog that comes in the car picks it up and can transmit parvo.”
Swift’s petition garnered 653 signatures as of Wednesday. She said she is fed up with the situation but is hopeful the city institutes real changes at Gary Animal Control.
“Maybe it’s just going to take a storm of people who are outraged for them to even to shape up,” Swift said. “The plan does sound good, but it’s going to take a lot of money. I cannot see one pet foundation covering the amount it would take to build a new facility.”