A video about DeKalb County’s animal shelter is not sitting well with some animal advocates seeking to improve conditions at the shelter.
The video, shown during a meeting between CEO Burrell Ellis and animal advocates, portrays the shelter in a better light than some advocates believe it should be.
“I thought it was very unfortunate that CEO Ellis chose this meeting of animal advocates…to show a political video which in no way, shape or form represented the conditions at the current shelter,” said Barbara Davis, who is actively involved in animal rescues. “It was insulting.”
Advocates have complained of mold, standing water, excessive heat and pests in the shelter.
“My heart breaks to walk in that place,” Davis said. “It’s a horrifying place. That was not our shelter on that video.”
“I’ve watched the video,” said Lynn Herron, CEO of Friends of DeKalb Animals. “I have personally been in that shelter since 2006 volunteering. That video is not that shelter. That’s what we want.”
Herron said the “politically correct” video will “will make people apathetic to the cause.”
In recent weeks, the county has painted the administrative offices of the shelter, hired a new pest control company and repaired various holes in the building.
“They’ve prettied it up and cleaned up,” Herron said. She said she did not see any roaches in the facility recently, which is a “vast improvement.
“We’re very grateful for what they’ve done so far,” Herron said.
Ellis assured residents that the county is committed to addressing the concerns raised by an animal services task force he appointed.
“We’re trying to promote this thing,” Ellis said. “I hear you loud and clear. I get it. I think we all get it. That’s not a fictitious depiction, but we’re going to make this shelter first-class. We’re going to get it right.”
About 100 people, many dressed in red, which has become the signature color for those concerned about the fate of animals at the animal shelter, attended the meeting.
One of the concerns advocates have raised is the lack of a permanent air conditioning system in the kennel area. Since 2007 the county has brought in automobile-sized air conditioning units to cool the facility.
“The facility is air-conditioned,” said Gordon Burkette, a liaison for the animal shelter. “It’s just not a permanent solution.”
The Board of Commissioners has approved $365,000 to fund HVAC improvements, which will be in addition to $100,000 already approved to correct deficiencies with the current air conditioning system. But before a permanent system is put into the building, the county will have to update the facility to current code compliance standards, Burkette said.
“The center is cool and the animals are safe,” Burkette said.
There has been some misinformation about heat-related animal deaths in the facility, he said.
“We have had no animals lost to heat in our facility since 2007,” Burkette said. That is as far as the animal shelter’s records go.
The permanent system should be in the shelter by July 31, according to county officials.
County officials released first-quarter statistics showing that 636 animals were adopted or rescued of the 1,485 animals taken in by the shelter.
Recently, the county put its new mobile pet adoption center on the road which will be available to adoptions each weekend. In addition, the animal shelter has expanded its hours of operation until 7 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays.
“By increasing the adoption opportunities, we have decreased our euthanization rate in half,” Ellis said.
Another 148 cats were returned to the wild after being neutered and ear-tipped.
Burkette said the county is gearing up to hire 10 animal control officers who should be in place by the end of June.
In March, Ellis announced a plan to replace the shelter with 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 mall.
Ellis’s administration has picked three potential sites for the shelter and is studying the feasibility of each.
To help provide oversight of animal services in DeKalb, Ellis said that he will be appointing a citizens’ advisory board in the couple of weeks.
“We want to be as transparent as we possibly can,” Ellis said.