Adoptions are up, euthanasias are down | Opinion

It’s a very exciting time at the Sangamon County Animal Adoption and Control Center. We think it’s important to share with the many pet owners and residents of Sangamon County the many changes we’ve made.

We are always looking to improve ourselves in order to better serve all our customers, whether they are on two or four legs. We’ve done just that, and the details are listed below. The big highlight is that we have increased staff and significantly increased resources, and focused more of those resources on animal care. We have a new expert group of veterinarians assisting us and we have hired our very first Animal Care Manager. We have re-established our volunteer program with a primary focus of animal enrichment, and the program is now run internally by county staff with greater oversight. We look forward to expanding this program as new applications are received and processed. We also made much-needed improvements to buildings and provided additional staff training.

But above all, euthanasia is down and adoptions up. It was truly a team effort between animal control and outside organizations. We thank our many partner organizations who work closely with us to ensure that as many animals as possible find new homes. We have been fortunate to have so many existing and new partners and are always on the lookout for more.

Under state law, our primary mandate is to protect the public from sick and dangerous animals. It is important work. But we know that kennel care and pet adoption has also become an important part of what we do. We take all of our responsibilities seriously and we believe it shows. I am proud to say that Sangamon County again passed a state inspection with the highest possible score, for the third time in a row.

Other achievements:

• Continued to significantly reduce animal euthanasia, while continuing to provide the service at the request of citizens and provide humane housing for terminally ill animals.

• Increased kennel staff, including a newly created Animal Care Manager position dedicated solely to direct medical care for animals housed at the shelter.

• Increased funding for emergency medical care for shelter animals, with $50,000 provided annually for emergency animal care for cases beyond routine care.

• We instituted additional professional training for shelter staff and volunteers, based on national standards and delivered by experts in the field.

• Establishment of a Veterinary Advisory Group to provide additional regular input from local veterinarians on animal care and policies and procedures.

• Provided over $500,000 for improvements to the Animal Control and Adoption Center buildings, creating a more comfortable and safe environment.

• Policies and procedures have been revamped to follow industry best practices, resulting in improved service areas such as pet adoption, volunteer involvement and kennel cleaning.

• More transparency and communication of data on the activities of the Animal Control and Adoption Center.

Gail O’Neill is director of the Sangamon County Department of Public Health. She writes in response to October 20 THIS GUESTWORK, “Animal control must address underlying issues”, by Jane McBride.

About Norman Griggs

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