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More Information You Should Consider

-Animal Services is responsible for a $15 million dollar, 52,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility that is rapidly deteriorating due to poor maintenance, and 123 staff members, many of whom lack the training to do their jobs properly. Animal Services has a 7 million dollar annual budget, handles 35,000 animals each year, and serves hundreds of thousands of residents.

-Despite all the recent problems – the indictment of a manager on animal cruelty, continuing problems with the air conditioning and filtration system, botched cruelty investigations, harassment of the staff, and last week’s DPD investigation of yet more cruelty at the shelter – the Director of Code Compliance and Assistant City Manager decided to eliminate the Division Manager position at Animal Services. That position was held by the only person in management at the shelter, in Code Compliance, or in day-to-day management of the City who had animal sheltering experience. That decision resulted in the Division Manager’s resignation, leaving the shelter effectively leaderless.

-The Animal Shelter Commission, despite a collective 63 years of experience in animal welfare is unable to convince The Director of Code Compliance that there are even problems with management of the shelter, much less that things must change. The Code Compliance Director, Interim Assistant Director, and the two remaining managers at the shelter are often unable to answer even the most basic questions or backup the data they provide to the Commission. The Director and Interim Assistant Director of Code continue to show a complete and total lack of respect for the Commission and refuse to consider suggestions made regarding management at the shelter. Their emails go unanswered. Their concerns are downplayed. Their suggestions are disregarded. Their frustrations ignored.

-During an Animal Services training workshop held at the end of August, one of the speakers suggested to the staff that their managers would know who to report suspected domestic violence to and who to call to report suspected abuse of children and adults. The whole class chuckled and shook their heads, laughing at the idea. When a later speaker suggested the shelter employee’s supervisors and managers could help them deal with a difficult volunteer at the shelter, they again chuckled and shook their heads. When they were told that stress and depression were common in animal welfare work and could lead to mood swings and erratic behavior, they wondered aloud why their managers and supervisors weren’t there to learn how to manage their own mood swings and erratic behaviors rather than subject the staff to them. Our officers deserve managers they can respect. That will come with managers with animal sheltering experience and leadership skills.

-The animals are suffering. The most valuable, compassionate, experienced staff members, tired of the stress and uncertainty at DAS, are leaving for jobs with other agencies. Dallas residents are angry, taxpayers are demanding change, the Commission is disgusted and we are on the verge of what will likely be another scathing report from the Humane Society of the United States after their recent evaluation. It is time for a total house-cleaning and a total reorganization of the department. We need to replace each and every manager and director with animal sheltering professionals and get Dallas Animal Services out from under the micromanagement going on in Code Compliance.

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