While awaiting a review of Louisville Metro Animal Services, the city is unveiling a new alert system to help lower the number of euthanized animals.
For years, poor communication and mismanagement has led to animals being unnecessarily killed despite efforts by rescue organizations to find people who will adopt them as pets. In many cases adoption groups have found a person to take care of an animal, but LMAS staffers either never received notice or didn’t get them in time.
Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer, says the new notification system will alert those groups once a new animal is admitted into the shelter and streamline contacts between the department, citizens and adoption agencies to avert animal deaths.
“We will be sending a notice to all the rescue agencies and to the public notifying them of these 50 pets needs adopting and they need adopting this week. So we’re very hopeful that with this proactive communication we can reach out to the groups so we can get as many pets adopted as possible,” he says.
Since taking office, Fischer pledged to fix problems at the department inherited from the previous administration. He immediately launched an investigation of LMAS’ inhumane treatment of animals, mistreatment of employees and poor management.
Critics have spared the administration any direct attack, but maintain that larger changes at the head of the department are long overdue.
“Is LMAS going in the right direction? No. There’s no leadership,” says Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, who sits on the director search committee. “And lacking proper leaderhsip and proper control of that leadership, we’re struggling to stay above water. There are some valiant employees out there who are really working hard, but they’re very disheartened.”
Fischer was expected to select a new direction by April, however, the administration missed that deadline after deciding to widen the field of applicants. And speculation that the city is moving towards privatizing certain services increased in recent weeks.
Downard praised the new notification system and said the mayor is taking the appointment of permanent director carefully and considering all options to improve animal services.
However, changes should have happened yesterday.
“I have told (LMAS employees) in the past that the light at the end of the tunnel is here, but it’s moving kind of slowly and everyday they go through some pain,” he says.
The agency’s review will be delivered to the mayor next week, and used to determine whether any services—such as animal adoption—should be handled by outside agencies.
In the meantime, the mayor’s office hopes a new alert system will help avoid unnecessarily of euthanizing animals and improve relations with the public.
“It will be a way for the animal services department to be speaking directly with the rescue groups and the adoption groups,” says Poynter. “And to make sure as much as possible that no adoptable pet has to be euthanized.”