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The Flea Circus: Liveblogging Today's Animal Shelter Commission Meeting

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Merry afternoon, Friends. I'm here at City Hall for today's Animal Shelter Commission meeting. They'll be discussing the recently released, mildly damning Humane Society report on the troubled Dallas Animal Services, which, under the new leadership of interim manager Lieutenant Scott Walton, has been trying to do an about-face in the public eye and in their daily operations.

Board chairman Skip Trimble opened the meeting -- the PowerPoint for which follows, for those who like to follow along -- and Lt. Walton got off to a running start with the manager's report, which details new developments like DAS's Facebook page and outreach efforts with events and calls for volunteers. It also lists cruelty investigations, most of which have been resolved with citizen compliance (things like neighbors calling and reporting abuse).

The ASC asked for follow-up investigations, which typically take a month or two, of untethered dog complaints to be sped up for the cold winter months. DAS currently has 274 owners who've been complained about with outstanding non-compliances for October and November, only 14 of which were resolved and  which worried Trimble, who said: "Two hundred and nine are still out there, not in compliance?" Walton was unclear -- actually, everyone was. Were these tetherings that had been investigated previously? From former months? Were other issues spotted and the tethering is on the back-burner?

Code Compliance Director Joey Zapata jumped in: "I can see we need to do a better job of laying out the information for y'all."

The commission moved on to citation documentation -- the most cited offense in the city for the past couple of months deal with failure to register pets. Last year, DAS issued 199 citations, and this year, DAS issued just 48. Skip Trimble wondered, uh, wtf? Walton wasn't sure.

He does know that DAS got more than a thousand fewer service calls this year than last. Maybe that has something to do with it? Trimble seemed skeptical. "That is really something." Answers to come, one hopes. We moved on to intake, which is down for both dogs and cats this year. Dog adoptions are down, but cat adoptions are up. (Partly my fault. Here's Stella!) Happily, happily: Euthanizations are down by 32 percent for dogs--that's more than a thousand fewer dogs killed--and 14 percent for cats.

Then they all realized somebody flubbed up the spreadsheet. Those bottom "total" numbers should read: 6,037 then 5,079 then 959. And yet again: Trimble notices that the "miscellaneous" outcome numbers on the shelter stats slide don't add up to the breakdown on the next slide. Wonder if there's a "math class" recommendation in that HSUS report?

ASC member Gloria Blum wondered about what it means for an animal to go "missing" from the shelter, referencing the notorious incident earlier this year wherein a cat was lost, and later died, in the shelter walls. She asked, "How does a cat become missing unless it goes up in the ...?"

Walton's response was that it's an accounting problem. "It's record keeping." But one dog, yes one, was "really stolen?" asked Blum.

"It happens. Yeah. People will grab a dog," said Zapata. People tuck dogs into coats and purses, and "walk out just like that."

Now, join me in the comments for more. Meow.
ASC Managers Report December 2010 v7

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