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EDITORIAL: More questions than answers regarding shelter

From: Pam
Sent on: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 3:53 PM

Meetup Members - assuming you are interested in this campaign, forwarding another article. More to come, I am sure. Our Facebook is very active as everyone is in shock that the ACO director is breeding commerically.

7/24/13 EDITOROIAL: The County Press

More questions than answers regarding shelter

IN OUR WORDS

We implore the Lapeer County Board of Commissioners take a hard look at how the county’s animal control shelter, under the direction of Carla Frantz, is being operated.

Last week after five beagles were reportedly euthanized within only but a few days when a couple of the animals became available for adoption, Stephanie Simmons (director of the county’s health department that oversees the animal shelter) pledged she would conduct an investigation. The review will address the concerns cited by many citizens, particularly as it relates to the shelter’s protocol for adoption and when an animal is to be euthanized.

Due to budget cuts at the county level the number of staff at the shelter has been cut to three as well as its days of operation when it’s open to the public. As a result of the cutbacks volunteers have been assisting in the shelter, and it’s some of these people that have noted some irregularities in the operation that gives reason for further investigation into a facility few neither visit nor understand how it works.

It’s kind of like trash collection — out of sight, and out of mind. Once you haul your garbage to the end of the road each week few people ever give it another thought. Other than making sure your animals are up to date on their license requirements, to think about what happens to cats and dogs that are brought in by members of the public, police officers or animal control employees who recover an animal might be depressing, because the fact is that some animals that go in never come out alive.

There are several animal rescue operations in the county that depend on volunteers and foster parents to take animals into their homes, so as to save them from being killed and give the volunteers the time necessary to find homes for the cats and dogs. The animal rescue groups and the animal shelter should share a common mission — to get neglected and loose animals off the streets while also accepting animals from citizens that they can no longer care for.

What’s troubling is it appears that animals (dogs in particular) have been killed before the animal rescue groups were notified the animals were set to be euthanized. It would seem logical to reach out to them on a regular basis if the alternative is the death of another animal.

Genesee County Animal Control has implemented a temporary no-kill policy at its shelter after a complaint that an employee allegedly told a man with two abandoned dogs that he could only leave the animals at the shelter if he signed a card requesting they be euthanized. Walt Rodabaugh, the former director of Lapeer County’s Animal Shelter before accepting the job in Genesee, has found himself in the hot seat, too. His job and management of the facility will be discussed by the county board when it meets this morning in Flint.

In addition to better defining protocol, policy and oversight from Simmons to the full county board, there is another matter that bears investigation as well.

Frantz, who lives near Capac in Mussey Township, told their local planning commission that she breeds dogs, but does not sell to the public (only to a wholesaler). She described her home-based business as a hobby kennel. On her 170-acre property she sought permission from the township to recognize “Consent Kennels” that are not subject to regulation as a kennel as defined in their current ordinance. According to official minutes, Frantz stated that she is the chief of animal control for Lapeer County and she sometimes has to bring dogs from the shelter to her home and the total number of animals on her property changes all the time.

She was denied her request by Mussey Township.

But this begs the question what is the director of our animal shelter doing taking dogs home? Is she taking dogs from the shelter for the purpose of breeding them for profit? If she feels there is a need to take them off site because of crowding at the Lapeer shelter, did she first notify a rescue organization to see if they can take the animal?

In order to maintain public trust with Frantz and the Lapeer County Animal Shelter there must be full disclosure of what Frantz is doing with the dogs she takes home, because it would seem to greatly decrease the odds of a dog ever being reunited with its owner should it have gotten loose when the dog is 40 miles away in the director’s home kennel. How can an animal be adopted if it’s not at the shelter where the public can view them or else be advertised in the local media?

Two of our readers in Sunday’s newspaper suggested if a solution to reduce or eliminate animal kills at the county shelter is more money (and staff) then they should propose an operating millage to ensure better management of the facility. Again, more food for thought for county administrators and the board. After all, you never know until you ask.

So many questions. We will interested to hear if there are any answers when the Lapeer County Board of Commissioners meets at 8:30 a.m. Thursday

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