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Monday, June 17, 2013

Executive Director Takes the Bull by the Horns

Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission’s Karen Sparapani

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As executive director of the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission, Karen Sparapani has her work cut out for her. MADACC takes in roughly 13,000 animals a year (more than any other control facility in Wisconsin) and euthanizes nearly half. With her 20-plus years of animal experience, the community is optimistic that things will change—but how? She explains.

 

STEP 1: THE PROBLEM

 

Which animals need the most help?

We euthanize pit bulls more than any other breed. Last year, out of 1,783 dogs euthanized, 1,396 were pit bulls or pitty mixes. There are not enough adopters for them and shelters and rescues are full. Many adopters will not even consider bringing one into their homes because of public perception and the difficulty with insurance and landlords. Cats are also in need. Out of 6,468 cats brought in last year, we euthanized 3,514.

What should the public do (or not do) to help?

·      People should not breed pit-bull type dogs. Too many are euthanized at shelters across the country.

·      Sterilize your cat. So many kittens are born each year, while the adults are euthanized. Be responsible and don’t bring more into this world!

·      If you have a pet, make sure he/she wears a collar/tag. This makes it less likely that you will have to call MADACC or that your animal will end up here. It’s your responsibility to make sure pets are under control or in a secure yard with access to shelter and water. ID tags and microchips are critical to returning lost animals.

·      If you want to bring an animal into your home, go to a shelter and adopt! The animal will be up to date on vaccines, sterilized and temperament tested. Best of all, if you cannot keep your animal, most shelters will take him/her back.

STEP 2: THE SOLUTION

 What issues at MADACC do you want to change?

Statistically, most strays are reclaimed within 72 hours. In Wisconsin, we hold animals for seven days, even if the person who dropped them off is the owner. If we had a shorter stray period, we could transfer animals out to other groups faster, leaving more space for animals that need it. We have a real issue with animals not being reclaimed and people not calling us when they lose an animal. I want to improve our return-to-owner rate and our euthanasia rates. I would also like to see changes in our animal housing for both cats and dogs. There are options available that allow animals more living space and materials that are easier to clean/maintain.

What changes have you made?

We have been tackling as many issues as we can in order to see an immediate change…

·      We have adopted a “Day 8” mindset. We want to guarantee that on day 8, we have lined up a shelter or rescue to take that animal into their adoption program.

·      We have started doing temperament testing across the board, and will only allow animals that are safe to be adopted out.

·      We have shifted our adoption program to exist solely for cats, pit bulls and pitty mixes. If people are interested in adopting a fluffy puppy they see on our website (after stray hold is up), we will give them the information to contact the group that has taken the animal.

·      We have established a cooperative foster program with Wisconsin Humane Society.

·      We have filled all open staff positions, as well as realigned some departments, allowing everyone to do the job they were hired to do.

·      We have changed our cleaning protocols in the animal housing areas by using a new disinfectant and new process.

·      We are rebuilding our relationships with transfer partners.

·      We have reconstructed our volunteer program and are adding more opportunities.

For information on volunteering, visit madacc.com/volunteer.htm.

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