Bad Ideas at Clayton Co Animal Control

For the past two years, Clayton County has killed more shelter pets than anywhere else in Georgia.  The animal control unit is run by the police department.  Their kill rate is roughly 80%.

Capt. Mark Thompson has been the director of animal control for two years. In that time, he said he has seen the number of abandoned dogs go up, and with it, the number of euthanizations.

Capt. Thompson wants to reverse this trend and kill fewer pets – an aim we can all support.  But instead of using the methods proven in other counties to save lives, he has inexplicably opted to make it more difficult for the public to adopt pets from the shelter:

One of the changes is to require a background check for people wanting to adopt.

“Typically an adoption would have been performed in 15 or 20 minutes, simply at the counter. Now it may require a day or so,” said Thompson.

Before a person can take home one of the dogs, an animal control officer will have to go to their home.

Background checks to weed out people convicted of animal cruelty are ok by me.  If the ACOs just want to look at your credit score or use a teenage shoplifting conviction as a means to deny your adoption application, I’m opposed.  The background checks need to be done responsibly.

I am not a fan of home visits prior to adoption for many reasons.  In this case, home visits mean an ACO must be available to visit the home at a mutually agreeable time between the potential adopter and the ACO.  For the average working Joe, this presents a challenge.  But assuming something can be arranged, it needs to be done in a timely manner.  People generally look for a dog when they are ready for one – not a week or a month in advance.  If the home visit can’t be arranged within a short period of time (Capt. Thompson says “a day or so”, I have my doubts), I think it’s likely adopters will go elsewhere – perhaps to a newspaper ad or flea market.

Scheduling a timely home visit and running background checks requires sufficient manpower to get the job done.  Clayton Co AC doesn’t have that manpower:

Thompson would like to see two to three more people added to his staff, but right now animal control is one person short and the county confirms there is a hiring freeze.

From the Clayton Co AC website:

Why is it taking so long for you to get to my call for service?

The Animal Control Unit handles between 50 and 75 calls a day for service. The Unit generally runs two trucks on the road for the entire county.  […]  Please understand our dilemma and have patience, we have many more calls for service than we can handle.

Does this animal control unit, one person short and under a hiring freeze, sound like they are prepared to enforce the new adoption regulations they themselves imposed – and all within “a day or so”?

“We want to make sure an animal is not taken from us and then simply let loose or discarded because someone underestimated what it took to take care of an animal of that size,” said Thompson.

So you’d rather kill a pet than risk someone underestimating the amount of care it will take to provide a good home?  Heaven forfend someone underestimates something in life.

I think Capt. Thompson is underestimating the amount of work it will take for his AC unit to enforce these rules.  Most importantly, he is underestimating the number of adopters who will be driven away from the Clayton Co shelter under these new protocols.  And that means even more killing at the deadliest site for friendly pets in the state of Georgia.

H/T Valerie for the link to this article.

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4 Comments

  1. mikken

     /  September 2, 2010

    That’s a bit…backwards. People who run up against these issues are just going to go to an add in the newspaper, and pick up a mill dog or something off Craigslist and bring it home that day.

    Throwing up more obstacles to responsible ownership just drives people in the wrong direction. And once again, it comes down to leadership. If you don’t have it, it shows. Big time.

    Reply
  2. And this is a notorious ‘heartstick’ “shelter”.

    Reply
  3. alice in LALA land

     /  September 2, 2010

    they should give away the pets to anyone who wants one.. the idea that there are ‘abusers” running around trying to “adopt’ pets is ludicrous.. if an abuser wants a pet.. he/she will get one..period..and a “home visit’.. why?? stupid and will kill even more.. are they trying to break their 80% record.. going for 90%

    Reply
  4. I can’t see how they can possibly manage if they’re intending to use paid staff for home visits. Also, what would they do about rescues wanting to transfer animals out to rehome them?

    There are good reasons for prehoming visits if they can be managed, and with a reasonable team of volunteers it’s possible to get them done with a 48 hour turnaround because volunteers are likely to be available evenings and weekends when the adopters are free.

    The aim of prehoming visits should be to make the adoption stick and avoid anyone getting hurt – e.g. it gives an opportunity to hammer home child safety if you get an adopter who doesn’t appreciate that small children must not be left with dogs unsupervised.

    Reply

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