...great dogs for great homes
Text of a letter from Betty Crawford to certain interested individuals and organizations:Dear_________,
Purebred Rescue is a volunteer group which has worked for the last eighteen years to save the lives of, and find new homes for, the orphaned family pets in Cobb County. When we started our work in 1980, the percentage of dogs saved from euthanasia was 15-18% of those in the County Animal Shelter. It is now well over 60%. Obviously, we cannot claim credit for all this improvement; other individuals such as Mrs. Jean Wright and organizations like the Cobb County Humane Society have donated considerable time and effort as well, but we do feel that our contribution has been a significant factor in the success of the overall effort.
Although our principal work has been the organization and operation of outreach adoptions at locations other than the Shelter itself, we do more: over the years, we have provided equipment such as single cages, a microscope for heartworm checks, and veterinary supplies for the old shelter. More recently, we have encouraged participation by individual Breed Rescue services to remove purebred dogs and - frequently at the request of the Shelter personnel - found foster homes for good dogs that were reaching the end of their time at the Shelter and were scheduled to be destroyed. We were responsible for a half-hour special on CNN which focused on the Shelters success in saving dogs rather than destroying them, and several favorable short television pieces and newspaper articles in the local media. Our 24-hour Voice Information service and our World Wide Web site both encourage in-person visits to the Shelter by callers.
Our serious concern, and the reason for this letter, is that the atmosphere of common purpose and cordial cooperation between members of the staff of the Cobb County Animal Shelter and the supporting volunteer organizations - specifically Purebred Rescue, but others as well - has deteriorated in recent months to the point where it has virtually disappeared. Unnecessary restrictions have been placed on volunteers, arbitrary standards imposed, and "disciplinary actions" taken against volunteers who were, for example, "not respectful" of certain staff members. Simple differences of opinion have become major conflicts, and Purebred Rescue and other personnel have been summarily barred from the Shelter premises for alleged breaches of minor regulations. Attempts to intimidate our volunteers have become commonplace, such as the threat of an action for slander against me by the Director, Cobb County Police Lieutenant Higgins. (The "slander"? I expressed my outrage at his arbitrary, capricious, and unwarranted suspension of adoptions at remote locations - and I had the audacity to do so publicly. Lt. Higgins is apparently unable to cope with criticism of his or his staffs administrative methods and feels that coercion is the best response to dissent.)
The important part of all this, however, is not my personal battles, nor is it the issue of whether it is Purebred Rescue or another organization that supports the Shelter; it is that we feel that the real losers in this turmoil are the dogs. If I thought that the best interest of the dogs in the Shelter would be served by doing so, I would voluntarily withdraw completely and I would terminate Purebred Rescues involvement as well - but I emphatically do not believe that to be true, and I believe that the adoption statistics will bear me out if they are objectively and impartially analyzed.
Purebred Rescues outside-the-Shelter adoptions have been responsible for the placing of an average of forty dogs a month. These adoptions have taken place in all kinds of weather and in all kinds of circumstances, and the high percentage of dogs adopted relative to those brought to the adoptions is a tribute to the dedication of the volunteers who receive little or no recognition and virtually no credit for their efforts. These dedicated individuals donate their time, their money, and in some cases their health, to the involved process of picking up the dogs, transporting them to the adoption location, displaying them to the interested public, and plowing through the tedious paperwork required. They ask for - and receive - no more for their efforts than the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped save a dogs life; they certainly deserve much more than the arrogant contempt with which they have been treated by some Shelter personnel. The attitudes of cooperation and courtesy which used to be standard have been replaced in many cases by an apparent belief that volunteers are obstacles to be brushed aside instead of assets whose abilities can be used to everyones advantage - particularly that of the dogs.
Finally, the attitude of some members of the staff towards the animals appears to have changed. Its my impression, and that of others with whom I have discussed this, that the impounded dogs are now considered by these employees to be little better than vermin and not deserving of any particular effort to preserve their lives. Of course, we recognize that euthanasia is a necessary component of the suburban Animal Control process; its unfortunate but true that there are simply too many dogs and not enough adopters, but there seems to be less interest in finding homes and more on "efficient" use of time by some Shelter personnel in the past few months. Our feeling is that efficiency is fine, but not at the expense of the animals.
Cobb County voters have in the past demonstrated their support of a Shelter with the most humane adoption policies in the Southeast, and the adoption rates have reflected this attitude. Purebred Rescue has been a major contributor to this success, and we have done so under four administrations.
We certainly dont claim to be perfect. Our desire to save good dogs from the gas chamber has on occasion led us to commit relatively minor mistakes of various kinds, and weve freely admitted to the majority of them. In every case where there was actually a problem and not just a bruised ego or two, weve made a conscious effort to isolate and eliminate the causes of the problem, and over the last eighteen years weve been successful at doing so. Now we have been removed from participation in the rescue process without adequate cause, simply to because we questioned the arbitrary dictates of a policy we disagreed with. (We thought that the right to do so was guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States, but it would seem that this is a document that apparently hasnt filtered down through all levels of the bureaucracy.)
As I said at the beginning of this letter, I can fight my own battles, and I will. But if you believe as I do that lost family pets should be given the maximum opportunity to find a new home, I ask you to call the County Commissioners and express your concerns.