Dirty. Malodorous. Wet. Dark.
That’s how a recent report described the DeKalb Animal Services and Enforcement (DASE) center, located behind the county jail and adjacent to the county incinerator.
In its report, the county’s animal control task force, formed to find ways to improve the quality of life for animals and reduce the number of euthanizations, stated that the DASE “languishes from the county’s lack of and articulated vision, allocation of resources and sustainable plan.”
The task force stated that DeKalb County “must work to successfully prevent animal cruelty, reduce the number of homeless animals entering the shelter, increase pet adoptions and seek to eliminate euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals, protect the public health from animal-borne disease and keep the public safe from dangerous animals,” according to the report, officially presented to the Board of Commissioners on March 20.
To address the concerns of the animal task force, DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis unveiled a plan to immediately upgrade the facilities’ HVAC system, solicit proposals for outsourcing the division’s functions and institute standardized fees for adoptions.
Ellis also presented three possible locations for a replacement facility for the animal shelter.
Of the task force’s several recommendations for improving the county’s animal services division, the group said the most important recommendation is to change and codify the mission of the animal services division.
According to the task force, headed by Susan Neugent, the goal of DASE should be “to protect and preserve the lives of all animals in the care of DeKalb County while securing adoptive placement or rescue for all savable animals, to maintain a safe an d humane community for animals and people alike, to vigorously enforce the county’s animal laws, and to prevent animal neglect and cruelty.”
The task force also wants the county to “make wholesale improvements to the existing facility…and begin plans for a new facility in a market-sensitive location.”
Currently, DASE is housed in a 22,000-square-foot building constructed in 1989. Of that space, approximately 14,000 square feet is used to hold animals. The center also has 2,500 square feet of temporary facilities.
“While the administrative areas can be described as an embarrassment at the very least, the kennel areas, especially the areas housing dogs, are an abomination,” the report states.
The task force said the building “has reached obsolescence and cannot sustain its current mission.”
The group has proposed that the county acquire a 31,000-square-foot facility on at least four acres of land with an improved kennel area, space for educational opportunities, an outdoor exercise area and a pet adoption mall.
In addition to acquiring a new facility, the task force said the county should recruit a successful leader experienced in lifesaving and shelter management; consider outsourcing; change the county code to strengthen efforts to combat animal cruelty and support the new lifesaving mission of DASE; and establish on ongoing oversight committee.