Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The dangers in calling attention to Putnam County Animal Services

Sometimes, when faced with confronting an organization about policies in place, it is easier to simply walk away. There are hundreds of animal rescue agencies, both public and private where volunteers and donors are welcomed with open arms. Why on earth would you put your feelings out there for an agency to tromp on?
We do it for the animals. I remember several years ago when there was an obvious problem with a local agency and when I was called by the reporter covering the story, I refused to confirm or deny anything he was asking. I come from a media background, thirty five years in the business and I refused to talk about said organization. I did not do it for them or the people involved. I did it for the animals, which many people do not understand.
When an animal rescue organization, especially a private one, gets a bad reputation, money and support dry up. The animals are then the ones who suffer, not the people.
Animal control agencies are another animal entirely. Animal control agencies are funded by tax dollars. They accept donations, but the bulk of the money spent to take care of the animals and even euthanize them, is paid for by tax dollars. John Q. Public has every right to visit, ask questions, and request time with the county commission and/or the governing body which controls the agency.
I believe there are two issues going on at Putnam County Animal Control. I do not live in Putnam County so am only writing about the issues I know about. The two issues which had everyone up in arms were the needless euthanasia of pitbulls and pitbull mixes when there were local rescues willing to take and place these dogs and the pulling of any animals by local rescues.
According to all the statements issued, a compromise has been reached in the pulling of pitbulls and pitbull mixes thanks to the efforts of a Jacksonville rescued called Pit Sisters. I also believe other humane societies and rescues are being allowed to pull animals of other breeds.
I think the problem is with the local volunteers who are attempting to take photos of the animals available which have not been pulled by a rescue. I think this is why they are not being allowed to take the photos, which can and will have an impact on the amount of exposure we can give these animals.
The quick and easy solution would be to find one of the approved rescues, discuss the problem with them, and become one of their volunteers. This will only work if that is the problem.
Now, I disagree with the agency for not allowing a volunteer to come in and take pictures because of the newspaper person in me. My first question to myself was, "What are they hiding?" I then would ask why they would object to a tax-paying citizen coming in and taking pictures of homeless animals in the hopes the exposure gained could save their life?
I think the problem could be several people have not made any friends of the Putnam County Animal Control or the Sheriff's Department, for that matter. Unfortunately, that is a danger you face when you make someone mad. I am sure they did not appreciate the spotlight being put on them. I have heard they were inundated with emails and calls and I know the local Jacksonville NBC station's story was picked up for national broadcast on msnbc.com.
I have this to say to Putnam: If you truly love animals, as your press release states, you will continue to allow volunteers to come to your shelter, take photos and info of your animals and welcome them back each week. You will find they will help the animals much more than you could hope for and reduce your costs for euthanasia and disposal.
I hope they understand this. As my grandmother used to tell me: "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." Let's hope they find the same to be true.

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