August 18, 2014
The conditions at our city pound are not ideal, and for that I am sorry. I do want everyone to understand how this has occurred. Part of our City’s animal control officer’s job is to pick up stray dogs throughout the town as complaints are received, or the dogs are observed roaming unchecked. The officer must then take them to the city pound. Sadly, most owners do not come forward when their dog is taken to the pound. At the time the dogs are picked up, the health condition of the dog and its history of care, if any, is unknown. It’s important to state that the city pound is a holding facility, not a rescue shelter. The city provides the pound as a service to the citizens in an effort to reduce roaming animals. However, no tax dollars are appropriated for animal care at the pound. If a dog comes in sick, there is a good chance that dog will infect the rest of the dogs in the pound. The pound doesn’t have the funding or manpower to prevent this. We only have one animal control officer for the entire city, and he essentially works 7 days a week and is on call 24 hours a day. He is a one man show, and his job is understandably overwhelming at times. He does clean the pens, water and feed the dogs daily in an effort to provide basic care while they are at the pound.
Our City’s ordinance provides that the city may hold the dogs for up to 5 days. If no one claims the dog within those 5 days, then the city is authorized to euthanize the animal. This is a procedure by a local veterinarian for which we must pay. We obviously have not been utilizing this ordinance effectively, which has led to a situation that nobody wants. We have tried to find shelters or rescues to take the dogs so that we did not have to euthanize them, but that takes time. The circumstances leading to this current, unfortunate situation occurred when our animal control officer – while trying to do his job -- continued to take in dogs, and the numbers quickly added up to an unmanageable amount. Animal control did make this mistake, but it will not happen again. Animal control and I personally do not desire to enforce this ordinance by putting animals down, but we do have a responsibility to take difficult actions, when necessary, that are the most humane under the circumstances. It is our hope that these animals can be adopted out or picked up by their owners, but frankly, we receive such a large volume of animals due to negligent owners that I’m concerned that we will not be able to keep the appropriate numbers at the pound without euthanizing some animals.
In the meantime, the City is working to improve the pound as an overall facility. But it’s important to keep in mind that it will not likely ever measure up to all expectations, as it is not intended to be a long-term rescue shelter. It is not funded or manned for that.
The City of Magnolia’s population is around 12,000 and we have one animal control officer. We struggle with a dog population problem that can only be helped by our own citizens. Dogs are dropped off in our town every day, plus we have dogs running loose that belong to non-compliant citizens. I want to encourage all dog owners in the city limits of Magnolia to buy a dog tag. This will ensure that your dog will get back to you. If you would like to help, we ask that you educate your family, neighbors and peers on the importance spaying and neutering dogs. The city pound would not face the challenges it has if these dogs had responsible owners. The compassion I have witnessed over the past few days has been great in volume, and I appreciate your concerns. I ask that you please use that compassion and concern by volunteering your time at the pound or donate money for vet care. The city pound is located at 922 S. Washington and is open to the public from 7:30-4:30.