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Training is critical for animal services, but apparently not a priority for the City

January 8, 2011

Training.  It’s an essential part of any job and nowhere more so than in Animal Services.  In fact, the need for more and better training is one of the things the animal shelter commission has been trying to get the City to realize for years.  There’s a proper way to handle a hurt dog in the field and a proper way to handle feral cats in the shelter.  There’s a proper way to disinfect a kennel and a proper way to feed a kitten.  But according to the recent HSUS report, our animal services people don’t know how to do these things properly because they’ve never received proper training.    Indeed, the recommendations contained in the report refer to the need for more training twenty-five times.

There’s a conference coming up in March in Austin.  It’s all about animal services, and according to the website there are 36 workshops on everything from animal cruelty to bio-safety and from respiratory disease to breed recognition.  The speakers are all recognizable names in animal control – Kit Jenkins from PetSmart Charities, Keane Menefee from Fort Worth Animal Control, an ADA from Houston (“Animal Control Officers Gone Wild” – really?), and vets from Texas A&M and U.C. Davis.  It’s $175 for 9 classes over 3 days.  You’d think the City would jump at the chance to get that kind of training for that kind of money, wouldn’t you?  Nope.  According to the employees, the City said no.  $ 175 was too expensive.   Even though some of them stand to lose their animal control certifications the end of June if they don’t get more continuing education by then.

Maybe they’re going to do what they did in July and have the animal services employees train each other to earn those CEUs.   It was a joke then and it’s a joke now.

So warm up your keyboards everyone.  We’ll dig into this a bit further and if we find out this is true we’ll all have some letter-writing to do.

By the way, did you see the Dallas Morning News article yesterday?  The one about the $ 8,000 the City spent on new chairs for the Council briefing room?  I already did the math – $ 8,000/$ 175 = 45 conference registrations.  IJS.

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