Angels in Beads
In my car hangs 2 single strands of Mardi Gras beads. One of them is blue and the other is yellow. Some see the hanging beads as insignificant while others envision me waving my bare chest like a college student. My boys see them as these fun things to swing while my boyfriend finds them terribly annoying and he is always trying to take them down or wrap them tighter around the rear view mirror. To me, those 2 strands of cheap beads are so much more.
You see, I received those beads on October 3rd, 2010. No, it wasn’t that long ago but it was one of the most important days of my life. It was the day that I realized just how big of an impact I could make in animal rescue and volunteer work. October 3rd was the last Royals home game of the year and a great event called Bark at the K, where Royals fans and pet lovers could unite with their furry buddies and watch a baseball game and share a hot dog. I had the joy of volunteering my time for Halfway Home Pet Adoptions and the beads were given to me by Bethany, who was one of the first people to show me the ropes at Halfway Home. The blue and yellow were the colors for Halfway Home and all of the volunteers were wearing them. I met great people who I have come to admire and be honored to consider my friends.
I’ve always been a “softy” when it comes to animals. When I was young, animals rescued me from life. The ones that I counted on were furry and couldn’t talk to me but I felt their presence nonetheless. Spending time sharing adoptable pets was my calling and I could spread it as fast as a communicable disease in Vegas. It brought out all of the qualities in myself that I truly admire. Do you know how much it means to someone when they are given a purpose? Well, I learned how much it meant when it was basically taken from me and I was turned away from offering my help. An ailing shelter with too many animals and never enough help actually turned me away. And not just me, but they turned away countless others, people who had quit jobs just so they could dedicate more precious time. Good people with gigantic hearts and the compassion and drive needed to make animal rescue successful. People who weren’t ordinary at all, they were angels.
Often times we speak of animal rescue workers as “angels”. Let me tell you, these angels were given to these animals for a reason. Whether you believe in God or not, surely you believe in miracles? Well, without angels those miracles wouldn’t happen. I was often amazed and completely awestruck to watch the volunteers and rescue coordinators at HHPA work. These people live and breathe rescue and they have those angel wings so they can fly around frantically, saving every life possible. They sacrifice relationships with family and friends, they spend weekends off from work by cleaning dog poop out of cages in a smelly and depressing shelter, they rack up huge phone bills by calling all over the country and trying to secure transport and fosters, they give all and nothing less just to save a life. If you saw an angel on your shoulder, would you swat it away? Would you try and handle things on your own or would you rest in the comfort of assistance and welcome it with open arms?
HHPA killed 17 dogs yesterday. Call it overcrowding, call it bad management, short on staff… whatever you want to call it, it’s all the same. Yesterday, 17 dogs paid the price for our pet overpopulation problem, for our lack of managerial skills and inability to ensure that the proper staff is readily available to handle overcrowding. It’s neglect people, no matter what you want to call it. There is no blame for one single entity. It took many people to make this problem and it will take just as many to fix it.
On May 1st, the city of Kansas City will take over the Kansas City Animal Shelter (Halfway Home Pet Adoptions). Do you as residents of the City know how the transfer will happen? Do you know where your tax dollars are spent and how they will be effected in all of this? Do you even know anything about all of this?
Since most people are “in the dark” when it comes to knowing what is occurring, I wanted to shed some light on the situation. Below, you will find some email chains in regards to the shelter and change of management. Please feel free to voice your opinions, bitch at me for posting such a thing, thank me for trying to help or UTILIZE your ABILITIES to help the situation. If you are good on the phone, make some phone calls to news stations and written publications and importantly, to City officials. If you are sexy, stop by my house and then head over to the City offices in person and let them know that you care. If you like to hide in the shadows and avoid conflict, spend some time researching successful animal shelters and how they went to “no kill” or what steps we can take to make a greater impact. If you are a pimp or have lots of money, donate it to Friends of Halfway Home (you can find their link in my Favorite Websites tab). If you have no job and time to kill, stop on by the shelter and donate your time. Spend a few moments comforting the dying and alone. Whether you know that you can save them or not, you need to let them believe that we can. We owe them at least that.
Here is the most recent email that I am aware of:
From: David Park
Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 3:14 PM
To: Mayor; City_Council
Cc: Troy Schulte; Deletta Dean
Subject: Animal Shelter Update
I know you have been receiving inquiries about the operation of the animal shelter after May 1 and hearing concerns about what will happen to the animals. Some of the concerns pertain to the prevalence of respiratory illnesses in the current population of animals housed at the shelter. This is to provide an update.We plan to assume control of the animal shelter on May 1 as an interim measure until a new vendor can be selected. New, seasonal positions have been established to hire employees to assist with the operation during this period. Most of the current employees have applied for these positions. Interviews are being held this week. We are currently negotiating with a veterinarian for veterinary services and fully anticipate having a contract executed by the end of April.
The volume of animals adopted or transferred to rescue groups is expected to remain the same. In fact, we want to lower or eliminate the amount charged to rescue groups to pull animals from the shelter so the volume could increase. The incidence of respiratory illness is of concern. The respiratory illness commonly called kennel cough is virtually impossible to eliminate from the shelter due to its outdated design. This is not a serious illness, however. Dr. Steckelberg had some lab tests done to determine the presence of other illnesses. They indicated negative on canine influenza, positive on bordetella (kennel cough), and positive on mycoplasma, which is a complication of kennel cough which effects the lungs and is probably causing the complications. There was a positive on distemper, but the lab says this is probably due to the dog getting a vaccination. All animals are now receiving the appropriate vaccinations upon arrival at the shelter. We have received numerous suggestions on how the animal shelter contract could be structured. Rather than issue a Request for Proposal that locks us in on a structure, we issued a Request for Information that provides more flexibility. The goal is to ensure all options are considered when we decide on a long-term arrangement for sheltering impounded animals. Responses to the RFI must be submitted by April 28, 2011. Work on the RFP will commence shortly afterwards. Our commitment has been, and will continue to be, to provide humane treatment of animals impounded at the shelter and to avoid euthanasia of animals whenever possible while operating in a fiscally prudent manner. Differing opinions in the community makes this especially challenging to accomplish without any controversy.
David Park, Director
Neighborhood and Community Services
414 E 12th, Room 402
Kansas City, MO 64106
Here is an email received on March 30th in regards to how the change of management will occur:
CC: firstname.lastname@example.org; Deletta.Dean@kcmo.org
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2011 13:11:21 -0700
Subject: RE: Three urgent questions – David –
I know rumors are rampant and usually inaccurate so let me clear some of them up for you.We are planning on assuming operational control of the shelter on May 1, but plan to operate it only long enough to get another arrangement in place. This could take up to six months, but probably not. We want to consider all options for what that next arrangement is so we plan to issue a formal Request for Information (RFI) to solicit suggestions on how we can best handle the animal impoundment and adoption function. The RFI will probably get issued within the next couple of weeks and be open for about 3 weeks. We will use the information obtained through this process to help us structure the RFP. I estimate that the RFP will be issued in late May or June.We have assigned another employee to be located at the shelter to serve as a transition coordinator. The employee will shadow shelter employees to learn what each of their duties and responsibilities are in detail and to look for operational details that need to be considered during the transition. No decisions on euthanasia are being handled by this employee. No pressure to euthanize more or certain animals is being applied.We intend for the vaccinations and medical treatment to continue uninterrupted. That has been communicated to Dr. Steckelberg and to my employees. We do want to reduce the animal inventory at the shelter to the lowest possible number during the transition and through our operational control. Animal control officers have been advised to impound dogs only when absolutely necessary. We are considering not adopting out animals at the shelter, but making them available to adoption agencies and rescue groups as soon as they have been impounded for the mandatory amount of time. The public would go to those other agencies to adopt an animal. This will negatively impact our revenue, but it should help reduce the inventory by shortening the time each animal spends at the shelter.As for volunteers walking dogs after we assume control, there has been no decision one way or the other on this issue yet.I have received lots of suggestions for running the shelter short term and long term. There are possibilities that go beyond simply “running the City’s shelter”. I like to ensure that all possible options have been thoroughly explored. That’s part of the reason for issuing an RFI to gather information for use in developing the RFP.This should bring you pretty much up to date on what we have planned.David Park, Director Neighborhood and Community Services 414 E 12th, Room 402 Kansas City, MO 64106 (816) 513-3231
There is more to add to all of this, as usual. In closing for today, I want you to take a moment and see just a few of the faces sitting at HHPA. These are some of the dogs most in need. Please open your home to foster or adopt one of these dogs. Do you really want to wait until I post another blog with them pictured? Perhaps then, it will be too late.
Tomorrow or maybe sooner, I will post arguments to the emails received from David Park. If you have any input, please share!