The Gwinnett County Animal Task Force is seeking public input about the County's Animal Welfare and Enforcement Unit and its Animal Welfare Center. They have created a brief online survey to collect information about the public's perception and opinions regarding the unit and what the public's needs and expectations are, and what the public is willing to do to help.
The Task Force was created by a resolution of the Board of Commissioners last year and is actively investigating ways to improve animal control and sheltering in Gwinnett County. The Task Force has until March 31, 2012 to present its findings. They have been charged with:
- Developing an Existing Conditions Report
- Developing Best Practices Report
- Developing recommendations on how best to care for animals that enter the Animal Welfare and Enforcement Center
- Creating PR campaigns to increase pet adoptions, responsible pet ownership, spaying and neutering and pet rescue
- Recommending needed Code and policy changes to further the goal of saving more lives, fostering more humane treatment of animals, public safety and increasing responsible pet ownership, and to identify long-term issues requiring further study beyond the immediate time period
- Recommending changes to organizational structure and/or mission of the Animal Advisory Council
- Developing recommendations concerningthe Animal Welfare and Enforcement Center's management, including public-private partnerships
As a growing number of communities across the nation are demonstrating, No Kill, public safety, and animal control are all quite compatible. Gwinnett County, despite having both high intake numbers and a high death rate in its shelter, is in a very good position to become a No Kill community, perhaps even the first one in the state of Georgia. According to statistics from the GVAW report and SPOT Society, and demographic data on Gwinnett County, Gwinnett has an intake of 11 pets per 1000 residents, this is lower than the national average, and less than a third of the intake rate per 1000 residents of Washoe County, Nevada, which has been No Kill since 2007 despite many very serious economic challenges. It is just over one seventh the intake rate of Brown County, Indiana, which just reported a very impressive 97% save rate. In 2007, Gwinnett County took in 8953 dogs and cats and killed 5590, or 62%. In 2010 it took in 9171 and killed 5882, or 64%. On average, the kill rate in the nations's shelters is about 50%, or over 3 million animals. The No Kill Advocacy Center estimates that, based on experience in a wide variety of communities across the country, 90% or more of the animals entering open-admission shelters are healthy or treatable and would make good family pets.
Click here to take the survey.
Given the well-known problems across the state, and the high death toll in Georgia shelters, counties across the state should take Gwinnett's lead and involve the community in investigating conditions and avenues of improvement in their municipal shelters.
Note: I spoke about the No Kill philosophy of sheltering and my experience with it to the Task Force and members of the public who attended their January 24, 2012 meeting. I am really glad that they are looking at No Kill methodology. I was impressed with the number of thoughtful questions they asked after my presentation, and the number of people with the desire and ability to make it happen and I am hopeful that they will be able to implement lifesaving changes for the homeless pets of Gwinnett County.
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