In response to complaints by members of the St. Clair County Animal Advocates group, St. Clair County Animal Services is making a policy change and working on constructing new outdoor kennels.
The county has developed a policy that would make it easier for people to adopt an animal they found and brought to Animal Services.
The policy will say an animal adoption is not guaranteed. However, after a seven-day waiting period is up and no one claims the animal, if the person wishes to adopt the animal, meets the requirements and goes through the adoption process, the county will let the person adopt the animal.
The county will have the animal microchipped, and spayed or neutered.
Animal Services Director Jim Jacquot said only a handful of people who bring in an animal and say they’re interested in adopting it actually follow through. He added that nine out of 10 times, they end up not being interested.
“We haven’t had much luck,” Jacquot said.
The new policy is in response to complaints about how people wanted to adopt an animal that was brought in but information wasn’t passed along to rescues who took the animal.
Jacquot also said the county prefers to get animals moved to rescues to avoid getting backed up, as adoptions can take 14 days to complete.
“If we have a rescue that has space, it makes more sense to get the animal to them immediately,” Jacquot said.
Meantime, Animal Services has received complaints about not having extra kennels to hold animals when the indoor kennels are being cleaned.
Jacquot said the county is working on building outside kennels, and has met with an architect to help design the kennel area. The kennel area won’t be enclosed, but it would be covered by a roof.
The area does have to be elevated to allow for wastewater drainage to be put in and to protect against flooding, Jacquot said.
Animal Services will be able to add about 10 kennels.
The animal advocates have also recently complained about the veterinarian the county has hired to help provide medical services for the animals.
“The vet is missing things with the animals that shouldn’t have been missed,” said Sheila Ford, who helped start the animal advocate group. “Several dogs had some serious issues. No one seems to notice animals day to day.”
Ford said the group has been conferring with its own veterinarian, and the group believes the contract is on the low side.
“They have this partnership with Belleville Animal Clinic and they’re not willing to look at anything else,” Ford said. “Why not put it out for bid? ... There might be another vet who might be willing to take over the contract and be more attentive.”
The county does not have to put the contract out for bids because the contract doesn’t exceed a monetary threshold that requires bidding. The animal clinic provides professional services for $19,200 a year.
The contract with Belleville Animal Clinic requires them to be on call every day, walk through the clinic to check on the animals and help provide pain management.
Workers at animal control also can tell vets if they have a question about an animal’s health, Jacquot said.
If there is a need for immediate medical attention, then a decision has to be made about whether to spend money. The potential cost is not included in the clinic’s contract with the county.
“That’s where pain management comes in,” Jacquot said. “The rescues don’t want that expense either.”
The county also pays the Belleville Animal Clinic to perform spay and neuter procedures, and to give rabies shots to animals.
Phone calls to the Belleville Animal Clinic seeking comment were not returned.
When the county last went out for bids looking for veterinarian services, it solicited bids from all the veterinarians around the county. However, no one returned a response, Jacquot said.
Providing medical care beyond pain management would require expanding the scope of the contract, Jacquot said.
“And I don’t think anyone would enter into an open-ended contract ... for that price,” Jacquot said.
Eventually the Belleville Animal Clinic was persuaded to take the contract.
Ford said the animal advocates group plans to start fundraising to help pay for parvo/distemper vaccines that could be given to animals when they are brought to animal control.
The group has wanted the county to provide these types of vaccines when an animal first comes into Animal Services.
“We’ve suggested a lot ways to offset those costs,” Ford said.
They have suggested using more volunteers, and even having a medical fund people could donate toward, to help pay for medical procedures for animals, such as setting broken bones or treating an illnesses.
“For every problem we’ve had, we’ve brought up a solution,” Ford said.