The Sutter County Animal Control shelter in CA has been in the ditch for years. This is not a matter of opinion but rather the conclusion drawn by multiple reports on the pound. In 2007, the county paid a consulting firm called Citygate more than $55 grand for an evaluation of the place. They got a thorough report for their money, chock full of recommendations and timetables for implementation (many were immediate). Subsequent evaluations have found that the recommendations have been largely ignored. There has been ongoing discussion about the need for a new building but as the evaluations note, moving failed practices into a new building does nothing to save pets’ lives. Last year, the grand jury issued its own findings and concluded:
If current upper management does not take action immediately to address many of the findings listed in the CITYGATE ASSOCIATE LLC Management Review as well as the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Report, the success of constructing a new state of the art Animal Shelter will be for naught. If Sutter County Management would have followed the recommendations listed in the CITYGATE review thousands of animals would have been saved and could have possibly been adopted. As such, the $55,775 the Community Services Director paid for this report was wasted and could have gone a long way toward improving the Shelter.
The most recent report, issued by a veterinarian just 2 months ago, finds that many of the problems repeatedly cited over the years remain and in fact, some have worsened. While intakes have increased since 2007 by 14%, the pound is killing 52% more animals and adoptions are down 5%. One of the many long term problems at the pound is the alarming number of pets falling over dead in their cages. That number has gone down by 18% over the last 5 years but it’s still 70 times higher than the state average.
A 2011 report by the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program noted that the average time it took dogs to die in their cages at Sutter Co was 8 days which indicated a “shelter-acquired fatal condition and/or prolonged suffering”. Cats who died in their cages at Sutter Co took an average of 9 days to die. “More cats died in their cages than were adopted.”
The 2011 report also indicated the manager was keeping newborn pups in the kill room, waiting for them to reach the appropriate age for adoption. Live animals were reportedly routinely housed in the kill room. The staff was insufficiently trained in disease prevention protocols to the point that they didn’t even know how to operate the disinfectant switch and were sometimes turning it off before hosing out kennels. Cages were cleaned with animals still inside. For dogs who were unable to use their automatic waterers, licking the waste-contaminated water mixed with disinfectant off the concrete floor was their only source of hydration.
Sick dogs were housed with healthy ones. Cats were kept in tiny cages – so small that they were considered “cruel” even for short-term use. The cat cages were “not thoroughly cleaned ever”. Rodent infestation was out of control.
The facility is in a terrible state of disrepair. In order to clean the outside portion of the indoor/outdoor dog runs or access any dogs in the outdoor part of the run, workers must actually crawl through the dog doors themselves.
No identification was placed on the pets and multiple identical looking animals were often housed in the same cage making oops-kills likely.
There’s more, much more. But you get the idea.
Every report on the Sutter Co facility outlines failings at every level. Lack of training, lack of shelter industry standard operating procedures, and lack of basic care directly result in the needless suffering and deaths of thousands of animals every year. And year after year, report after report, the facility fails to implement the sweeping changes needed for meaningful reform. Likewise, the county fails to hold the pound accountable and taxpayers are left paying for a house of misery for the community’s pets.
Gee, I wonder what next year’s report on the Sutter Co pound will say.
(Note: This link provides copies of several of the reports on the pound and is 365 pages long. I did not read through to the end. As far as what I saw, the only extremely disturbing image is “Exhibit D” found on page 22. The other images I saw are your standard pound misery fare.)