Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Incredible Shrinking Pound

Did you think, like I did, that the reason for allocating funds and approving construction of a new animal control facility in PG County was largely to increase the capacity for sheltering dogs and cats?  Did you think that the new shelter would hold twice as many animals as the old one?  Did you feel that the millions of dollars of hard-earned tax dollars of County citizens was worth while because of the improved care and space for the animals that find themselves waiting there for their owners' claim?

In this early news article, AMD claims that the old building, in Forestville, MD, accommodated "up to 160 animals."  The hope expressed in the article was to double that in the building to be sited in Upper Marlboro.  That facility opened its doors in 2009.  According to what a task force in the City of Bowie was told soon after it opened, 250 dogs and 150 cats could be housed in the Upper Marlboro facility.  Let's see.  Add 250 to 150 and you come up with four hundred (400).  That's MORE than double the "up to 160" number of the old shelter, isn't it?


Now, the Taylor/Wynkoop twins want you to believe the absolute capacity, in the worst disaster, and ONLY then, is, something like 326.  Yes, that's right, not 300, not 325, not 400.  But three hundred and twenty six.  Oh, that doesn't (I think) seem to include the "20 additional cages if necessary" or the "10 animals" or the "10 reptile/fish pets" that the Exotic room is claimed to be fit for.  So, er, in a disaster PG can now house 326, plus "if necessary" (but not in a disaster?!?!?) 20 plus 10 animals plus 10 reptile/fish pets.  So the capacity might be -- supposing always that Taylor/Wynkoop is thinking "straight," 366.  But NOT 400. And in NON-disasters?  It is a measly 238 animals.  Just 78 more than the small, dingy, old building.  Aaaaand, our tax dollars paid very handsomely for this 78 more animal capacity.  Really handsomely.

If you supported the construction of the new facility, and expected that it would provide safety for the pets of a growing County population, would you feel duped by this new revelation, that the PG shelter cost millions but only provides for 78 more animals?  (And if you're left with your head spinning over the various small counts in our last paragraph, I'm sorry -- it's taken directly from the Taylor/Wynkoop response to the simple question, "What barriers exist, if any, to creating flexible capacity (i.e., placing multiple animals in single cages) when the shelter is experiencing a high volume of animal intakes?"

You should know, that it is entirely humane and practical to expect animal care and control personnel to know how to create flexible capacity.  Litters of kittens or puppies can be housed together, and the mother cat or dog can usually also be housed with the litter.  Animals impounded together, often are MORE calm and comfortable when housed together so they have warmth and familiar companions. 

But even putting aside the question of why DER/AMD can't imagine any way of saving animal lives; even ignoring the question of just what exactly taxpayers and the County Budget paid for; the bigger concern may be, why can't Taylor/Wynkoop answer a simple question the same way twice?  What happened that made the new PG shelter shrink? 

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