Sunday, June 11, 2017

A bit of Deja Vu

After you’ve been blogging long enough, stories start to repeat themselves. You sit down to write and it strikes you. Last weeks City Council meeting was Deja Vu all over again

We at ConchoInfo started covering animal issues from the start of the blog. Back in 2006 there was a lot to write about because of a puppy mill in one of the better neighborhoods in the city. It was mostly just a nuisance but the local news had a field day and City Hall went in to defense mode. We blogged about it here. First that happened was All kinds of new laws were proposed, especially restrictions on the number  of animals that could be owned and couple of new license requirements such as breeder permits and multi pet owner permits. The animal control statute was revised in 2007 but no new licenses or numbers were added. The main point made during all the discussions were that there were plenty of existing laws to deal with these issues if they would just be properly enforced (brought up by Judge Gilbert), and there were not nearly enough Animal Control officers available to do the job. It was pointed out at that time by the health director that a city should normally have  one officer per 10,000 people which meant that San Angelo needed 9 officers back in 2006. They were only authorized 3, which council then upped to 5 and said let’s see how this works. Throughout this bit of drama almost nothing was said about the animal services board. You know, the councils representatives that are supposed to provide policy guidance and oversight to the animal shelter and control operations.

In 2009, another puppy mill and a worse case than the one 3 years before. More pictures on the local news and abuse was front page. We blogged about it here. This time they passed an ordinance with breeding and mult-pet restrictions. Spay and neuter, etc. etc. etc.. At this time they had never had all 5 of the control officer positions filled. Looking at the quality of enforcement, not sure that would have really made a difference but the truth is that in a city our size 5 officers weren't going to be able to handle the job. And the Animal services board was still mostly missing in action. They did manage to get some very committed people on the commission for a while but little progress was made. I attended a few ASB meetings and they had some good recommendations but many of them never made it to the city council. Those few that did get before council were often not even close to what the board recommended.

It was during this time that city council and staff started looking at why, when, and how to use the numerous boards & commissions in the city. Animal Service board was rename and give a new ordinance and bylaws as the Animal Shelter Advisory committee and staff congratulated themselves on solving that problem.

Some things have changed in the last 11 years and there really has been some progress but last weeks council meeting seemed like a kind of mashed up replay from 8 to 12 years ago. As I will make clearer in my next post, things have changed but far too many are still stuck over a decade ago. Like I said, Deja Vu all over again.

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