In my last post, I discussed the topic of animal control again. Specifically, the ongoing high kill rate at the Upper Keys shelter.
Well, there was a terrific letter in the Free Press by Lee Harris of Tavernier. It’s short and sweet. Gets right to the point. This part is spot on.
Ms. Garrettson, in my opinion, pursuing every avenue to find homes for the animals in your care is inherent in your job description. Your response to the Free Press is unforgivable and quite telling. Shame on you Ms. Garretson, your apathy and unwillingness to apply yourself and truly do your job is costing the lives of innocent animals.
I agree that Garrettson, more than anyone else, has a direct responsibility to address the problem. Sadly, she doesn’t even try. Like I said in my last post on the subject, every time a possible solution is proposed, Garrettson bats it down. She seems more interested in preserving the horrible status quo than in fixing it.
But Garrettson isn’t the only one. Monroe County contracts with Garrettson to run the Upper Keys animal shelter. And the county has a very shady history when it comes to the issue of animal control. Here’s a run-down.
- The Upper Keys shelter has historically been funded to a lesser extent than the other two shelters. It’s logical to assume that more money would enable the shelter to save more animals. But asking for increased funding is fraught with risk. I’m sure Garrettson is fully aware of what happened when Stand Up For Animals (SUFA) requested additional funding. All hell broke loose. The county froze SUFA’s assets, launched a witch hunt, and initiated years of expensive and pointless litigation. After all that, the county agreed to pay SUFA $45,000. And that’s only because SUFA had the resources and gumption to fight back.
- The county excused its treatment of SUFA in part by saying that a county truck, leased by SUFA, was used to transport animals to new adoptive homes in Michigan. Clearly, the county takes a dim view of out-of-county adoptions. It’s no surprise then that Garrettson would back away from the idea of finding adoptive homes out of the area. Even though that is a very common and effective way of saving lives.
- When the county commissioners were confronted with the facts of the funding disparity, county staff subsequently exaggerated the number of animals handled at the other two shelters in the 2015 State of Monroe County report. Of course, even if the county did increase funding its money wasted if Garrettson lacks the motivation to improve the performance of her shelter. But the fact that the county preferred to lie about the disparity rather than fixing it is very telling.
- When asked about the astronomically high kill rate at the Upper Keys shelter, county commissioner Sylvia Murphy said she was “perfectly happy” with the services provided by the shelter. You read that correctly. Murphy has said she was “perfectly happy” with the high kill rate. No help there.
- When the idea of single member districts re-emerged, commissioner Heather Carruthers forcefully opposed it, claiming that if your own commissioner disagrees with you on a particular issue, you could approach another commissioner and they would be inclined to listen. I contacted Carruthers about the high kill rate. No response. Clearly, despite what she said, Carruthers isn’t much interested in helping constituents from other districts. No help there either.
While I do think that Garrettson can and should do more to resolve the problem, I also recognize that she’s boxed in politically to some extent. The county commission has no desire to reduce the high kill rate. Quite the opposite. By its actions, the county has demonstrated that it will fight dirty to preserve the sad, dysfunctional status quo. I don’t know why. I don’t know who benefits and how. The animals certainly don’t, and Upper Keys citizens don’t.
Even with positive change at the county level, Garrettson clearly is not the person to turn things around. She refuses to entertain any new ideas and has none of her own. She’s got more excuses than she’s got dead cats. So what’s the answer?
Well, I think it all starts with public pressure on the county commission. Murphy needs to hear that even if she’s “perfectly happy”, her constituents are not. If Murphy won’t listen to her constituents, than the constituents need to speak with the other commissioners, including and especially Carruthers. I think it’s fair to hold Carruthers to her word.
I would like to see the county go out with a request for proposal (RFP) for the Upper Keys shelter. And that RFP should include a plan for addressing the high kill rate. But for any effort to succeed, accurate information is needed. At one point, the iPhone Bandit said he would have staff “look into” the high kill rate. As far as I know, they never did. That would be the logical first step in tackling the problem.
The bottom line is that those who are responsible for the shelter, Garrettson and Monroe County, simply don’t care enough to do anything about the high kill rate; and so they don’t. The only people who can do anything about this situation right now are the citizens and the taxpayers in the Upper Keys. They, like Lee Harris, need to speak up and let their disgust with this ongoing situation be known.
I have a lot of animal control posts. Most of them can be found here.