On February 1st, a meeting is being held by Steve Bates, the director of the animal shelter, to recruit new volunteers to replace the Parker Paws volunteers. He and the shelter management have some measure of CONTROL over volunteers, and I think that’s why he’s try to corral all of us who want to see changes at the shelter into that category.
Here are a few things I’ve heard about how things are done at the shelter.
Steve Bates had a meeting with several Parker Paws volunteers last week. During that meeting, someone mentioned that the Plano shelter could take some of the Weatherford shelter’s dogs. One of the former Parker Paws volunteers said she would drive the dogs to Plano. Steve Bates told her they didn’t need her, that the shelter employees would take the dogs — but he said he wanted to see if this volunteer was a “talker” or a “doer.”
(Interestingly, he used the same terminology in a phone conversation I had with him last week.)
Several hours later, ANOTHER former volunteer got a call from Steve Bates asking her to drive the dogs to Plano. I can only surmise that Bates was unable to get the shelter employees to take the dogs. The shelter has a big trailer that was donated by a citizen, I think, but volunteers are not allowed to use it to transport dogs.
The dogs got to Plano and a chance at adoption, thanks to a group of former volunteers. No thanks was forthcoming from Bates or the shelter employees. These volunteers have been donating their time and money — the shelter doesn’t even reimburse the volunteers for gas money — in order to help the animals that the shelter employees won’t and don’t.
Bates is a bureaucrat with no experience with animal shelters who was given charge of the shelter last March. Since then, he has been promising change, which has not materialized. That’s what happens when you shuffle bureaucrats around who don’t have the knowledge or experience to do their jobs.
People like Bates and Dianne Daniels, the shelter manager, are old school animal control people. The animal “shelter” is really a dog pound. They shuffle animals in and out according to some archaic policy and no one goes out of their way to find homes for all the healthy, adoptable animals who were once someone’s pets.
These old school people will all tell you how much they love animals, and maybe they do, all evidence to the contrary, but they haven’t evolved with the times. It takes someone with energy and vision to bring Weatherford into the present — and the future. All across Texas and across the nation, shelters are going No Kill. It’s a new age and we need people in charge of our shelter with energy and vision, who are up to date on new methods of caring for homeless animals. I understand that the shelter’s vet, Dr. Kaiser, was one of those people but the ignoramuses at the shelter wouldn’t let her do the job she had been hired to do.
Everything I’ve heard and read suggests that it’s time to put these dinosaurs out to pasture, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor. But they won’t go without a fight. City employees have an established system of cronyism between the Sheriff’s office, the City Manager’s office, and the City Council that makes it difficult to change anything. For the sake of the animals, we must persevere. As Margaret Mead noted, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Think about this: if there is a hoarding case, for example, the animals that are seized are held at the shelter pending a legal outcome. That means that healthy, adoptable animals already at the shelter are killed to make room for the hoarder’s animals, which are kept at the shelter until legal proceedings conclude. Now, if those healthy adoptable animals are networked with rescue groups and internet resources, they can move on instead of being warehoused at the shelter until they’re killed. Finding homes and rescues for these animals–that’s the work that the volunteers have been doing — and work that the shelter employees SHOULD be doing.
If the shelter sends animals to the PetSmart adoptions, they can say that these animals are “live release,” which makes the shelter’s statistics look better. However — those animals are sent to the Ft. Worth shelter for vetting & neutering first. The Ft Worth shelter is an unhealthy environment due to overcrowding and unhealthy conditions, and some of the Weatherford dogs get sick there before they make it to PetSmart. Once they’re on the sick list at PetSmart, they can’t be brought back for a period of months for adoption. So they linger in the Ft Worth shelter, which euthanizes all sick pets. And this doesn’t affect Weatherford’s “live release” statistic.
We are gathering a group of people to attend the February 14th meeting of the City Council who think a change in policy and management at the shelter is overdue. We will keep interested members of the public informed on that.
Those who want to help make the Weatherford/Parker County Animal Shelter a more humane “shelter” for abandoned and neglected pets, please join us tonight at 7:00 pm at:
Harberger Hill Community Center
701 Narrow Street, Weatherford, TX 76086