April 12, 2019
Dear Mayor Gist,
Thank you for responding to my letter. I apologize for the scene and I do not wish to be antagonistic. However, nothing in your response gives me reason to stop being critical of this building. You have only reiterated what I knew or suspected, which is that there is no good vision of how to spend taxpayer and animal welfare money smartly for the benefit of animals. The narrative I will continue to tell is that the people were not given a voice or forum to have input into these plans, and we were ignored and marginalized through the entire decision-making process, including, stunningly, where we should have credibility: the spay/neuter ordinance. This lack of leadership will fall at your feet. You say you want to work with rescues and spay/neuter groups, but demonstrably have not. You have consulted only your friends who have given you bad advice.
I have been asked to submit a guest column to the Jackson Sun about my position on the ordinance. If it does not run, I will still take my thoughts to social media and will speak of it with anyone who will listen.
I got a call yesterday from a woman who rescued a kitten from the street that she could not keep. She, like many others before, have been turned away at the door of the JACC. The City has been in charge of the Center for two years - how will the new facility do more to prevent over-population than what you are doing now? The fact is: the center will fill up whether you have 20 cages, or 200.
There are big gaps in a plan, not just for spay/neuter but for how to work with rescue groups as well. Here are some of the points you are not addressing:
- First, and most maddeningly, decisions were made with NO public input. Spay Neuter was not at the table. Most rescue groups were not at the table. You cannot now give lip service to wanting to "coordinate and work" with those groups when you are asking us to be a part of a system we believe is ill-conceived, after giving us no voice or access and disregarding our efforts to be heard.
- What will be the projected per animal cost of rescue through this facility (how many animals do you plan to rescue and what are the operating costs)? I have not seen any numbers or projections. As taxpayers, we deserve to have confidence that our money is being spent wisely.
- How will the new facility work with rescues to ensure that animals are adopted more rapidly than they are now? What will you do with animals that are not adopted to prevent kennel syndrome and other ill health (lack of stimulation and exercise) that are effects of being kenneled indefinitely?
- How many animals will be turned away at the door and what does the City plan to to do support them. Will you support West TN Spay Neuter with funding so that we can adequately service the pet owners who will seek assistance when an ordinance is passed? Will you be willing to pay me or others fairly for the service we are providing the community for the care of animals? (Am I to continue unfunded and volunteering to provide a service to the community while folks with salaries are doing inefficient work that I believe is ultimately not productive down the street?)
- Some pets are very marketable through rescues and others are very difficult. How are decisions going to be made about which animals you will share with them. Who will get the pick of the litters? Will you be willing to fund rescues for their work with less desirable/more expensive animals as well? How are these efforts being made now, while the City has governance of a rescue facility. How will a new building make this dynamic any different.
- How will you enforce a spay/neuter ordinance? What officer training, procedures and proof will you require. I have read the ordinance and it does not address the bureaucracy that must be created to enforce such a law. The logistics of identifying the certifying animals reeks of government intrusion and over-reach.
This ordinance, which you did not ask me or any expert about, will cause pet owners to seek assistance. I will not be available to clean up that mess. Providing assistance is more than filling out forms and paying for a surgery, and the farce that is Community Spay Neuter will not be able to serve the people.
I look forward to helping the City find solutions to the issues of animal welfare in Jackson.