This Tuesday, April 26, at 7 p.m., at 100 Cherokee Street, in Marietta, the Cobb County Commissioners will hold their regular board meeting. The board is willing to hear ideas and concerns from citizens, rescue groups, animal advocates, volunteers and shelter staff regarding the budget cuts at Animal Control and ways to keep, not kill, our animals. Twelve people are allowed to speak at the meeting, but they must sign up first.
It is too late for numerous animals that were killed within the first two days of last week. I was at the shelter, Wednesday last, and found numerous cages empty. These animals weren’t killed because of lack of space…but lack of money. I go back to the shelter this week with trepidation, fearing more animals have been sacrificed on the altar of the balanced budget.
I am posting in this article an email I sent to the county commissioners, chairman, county manager, and the shelter director. It was prompted after emails I received with alarming allegations and by events that unfolded this week at the shelter.
The email I sent to Cobb commissioners, the chairman, and county manager:
"I have received several emails in regards to the 10-percent budget cut to the County Animal Control shelter. These emails stated that to make the 10-percent cut, 50-percent of the animals in the shelter will be killed. I have received no confirmation or denial regarding the truth of the matter.
What I know for certain is that numerous animals were put down this week alone. In particular, two animals - a 14-year-old cat, named Boo, that I was working to try and have rescued; and a dog that had been there since the end of December yet was always overlooked (most likely due to her scared demeanor).
The cat, I was told, died in his cage from the Rhino virus (This alone is unacceptable. The virus can be combated with antibiotics. I rescued two of my cats from this shelter - one had the Rhino virus when we got him. He was a baby but he pulled through easily.) When I saw Boo, five days earlier, he was quite healthy. I'm not sure if he really died in his cage, or if he was one of the cats put down this week; either way this should not be happening - yet it is. There are plenty of open cages in the cat room therefore space is not an issue.
The dog, Candy, had been there since December. I write a weekly Pets of the Week article for Smyrna-Vinings Patch and I tried two times to feature this dog - she really tugged at my heart. I was discouraged both times by the shelter staff regarding her. On Candy's last day, a volunteer had her outside for a stretch. According to the volunteer, all Candy wanted was to sit beside her and have her paw stroked. She said Candy did tricks and was quite loving. Shortly after the outing, the volunteer witnessed Candy being taken out by staff; and when they pulled her card...she knew it was the end for Candy.
I have Cc'd Officer (Jeff) Patellis with this email. He has a job to do. However, you and the public need to be aware of what happens at the shelter with these animals; and the effects the budget cuts are having. Please, do not let it continue. You have the power to act and make changes. There is no reason for these cats or dogs to be put down when there is space available, or to suffer and die without medical treatment.
These animals can be adopted. I have featured about 40 animals in my articles over the last 17 weeks. Of these 40 animals, 2 are still there, 2 were put to sleep, 36 were adopted or rescued, one was returned and is awaiting adoption (unless he was put down recently). I personally list these animals on Craigslist and ebay classifieds every week. Recently, I began to photograph, write up information, and list others (not featured in Patch) on ebay - all but one of these (animals) have been adopted.
Utilize volunteers and rescue groups' efforts. Hire someone to organize adoption efforts (your new system online has no pictures or information about the animal's personalities - it didn't work when I tried). People are willing to help if they feel that what they are doing is making a difference. The staff needs to know the animals and be able to tell potential adopters about them. I could go on and on with suggestions. There are many workable ones.
I understand that there is a committee to help aid adoption efforts. I would like to be a part of this committee. I can make a difference. There is also grant money that is trying to be won. With the cuts to the budget and more animals being put down, the ASPCA will not look highly upon these actions and additional funding will not be available.
I hope you will do what is right for our animals and for Cobb County's reputation.
I received a response from Commissioner Helen Goreham, but have received no reply, as of this writing, from any of the other recipients. Melissa Sprattling, of Cobb County Animal Advocates, spoke with Commissioner Woody Thompson, board liaison to the shelter, by phone; she was told that meetings took place last week between Commissioner Thompson, shelter Director, Cpt. Jeff Patellis, and shelter Facilities Operations Manager, Don Bruce.
Commissioner Thompson also said a meeting is scheduled for today, Monday, April 25, between the County Manager, David Hankerson, the Finance Director, James Pehrson, and Tim Lee, Commissioner Chairman to discuss what monies, if any, can be moved around. Take a stand for these animals by emailing or phoning your county commissioner, the chairman, and county manager today. And then, come Tuesday night to the board meeting. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if each animal at the shelter had one person stand in their place and represent them?