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Director Leigh Anne Garrard headlines presentation on Chatham County animal services

By Suzanne Kozel
Posted Friday, August 8, 2014

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Pittsboro, NC - If you missed the recent Animal Services Stakeholders Meeting, you missed a very informative event! Leigh Anne Garrard, our new Animal Services Director took a very disturbing topic for many of us - Euthanasia of Healthy, Adoptable Dogs and Cats - and presented a very engaging, informative program. As a community, we can help address animal overpopulation and reduce the need for euthanasia by promoting spay and neuter programs. Working together with our local animal welfare organizations and our Animal Services agency we can make a difference.

Leigh Anne's presentation included:

.. A heartfelt discussion of how difficult this part of the staff's job is. Leigh Anne introduced each Animal Services officer and Shelter staff member, outlined their primary responsibilities plus presented something about their life/interests outside of work.

.. She discussed the number of kennels the current shelter has available, how they maximize occupancy, how they get to know the animals and their temperaments - how they find that "jewel in the rough", and how they have to make tough decisions when there is no space.

.. She touched on key myths and misinformation about euthanasia at the shelter and emphasized their use of humane procedures. No gas chamber since 2009.

.. She discussed "open admission shelters" vs. "no kill shelters". Chatham is the only "open admission" shelter in the community which means they must take all domestic animals of all breeds who come through their doors. A "no kill shelter" typically restricts their intake and may decline to accept breeds such as pit bulls, chows, and rottweilers.

.. Leigh Anne thanked the many community rescue groups and organizations who routinely "pull" adoptable animals from the Chatham Shelter thus helping to reduce the need for euthanasia and giving these animals a chance at a new life.

How can we as a community help? Get involved and informed. Attend these Stakeholder Meetings - get to know your Animal Services team - they need your support! If you would like a repeat of this presentation for your organization, please contact Animal Services at 919-542-7203 to arrange.

Animal Services Highlights of this past year:

.. Implemented debt set-off program to recover citation dollars from those who don't pay - the fee is taken out of the individual's tax return

.. Purchased radios for all officers so they now have reliable communication equipment when out in the field

.. New ordinance implemented April 15th including significant increase in citation fines. Improvement is being seen in animal welfare, particularly in some of the historically problematic areas of the county

.. 3 certified rabies vaccinators. For owner retrievals, if owner cannot produce proof of vaccination, animal is vaccinated ($10 fee) before release

.. All staff (shelter and officers) have participated in at least one professional development opportunity this year. Ongoing program to keep staff abreast of things in their field.

.. Humane Society of United States - first to receive Rural Shelter recognition award

.. Every animal adopted is spayed/neutered before going home

.. Over 100 animals were saved this past year through the low cost adoption events

All Animal Services policies are being reviewed/updated. Of note: there is a Service Request Response policy that sets expectations of response time to calls based on assigned priority level. And the Spay/Neuter Subsidy policy has increased the number of vouchers per family from 2 to 4 annually.

The 2013-14 fiscal year stats were presented and discussed - continued effort is being put into improving the software application used to capture animal control and shelter data. The shelter maintains a very high volume of contacts (calls, people coming in the door, etc.) but the number of intakes has declined over last year - Leigh Anne believes continued heavy focus on spay/neuter and community education is helping!

The next meeting will be October 30th from 6-8 at the Chatham Library.

 
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Director Leigh Anne Garrard headlines presentation on Chatham County animal services
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