Volunteers are needed says Missouri City resident
As a citizen of Missouri City, I have been advocating for an effort to get the city of Missouri City to allow volunteers in the city’s Animal Shelter for almost a year now. Despite city representative’s assurance that a volunteer program is a “priority” for the city, I have seen little, if any, progress since I first made contact. In my experience, if something is a “priority” it doesn’t take over 10 months to get off the ground. After months of increasing frustration, I am now convinced that the City of Missouri City will only move forward under public pressure.
Let me tell you why the city needs volunteers at the city’s animal shelter.
1) Improved Relations with the Missouri City Public – There needs to be someone to answer the phone. The Animal Control Officers (ACOs) are in and out of the shelter all day. Even when they are there, they are often in the kennel, taking care of the dogs. They cannot hear the phone when they are in the kennel. This means that almost everyone who calls Animal Control must leave a message and the ACOs return the calls later in the day. Not only is this inefficient, but it is frustrating to citizens who call Animal Control. Volunteers could answer the phone, notify the ACOs of emergencies while they are out on calls, and answer the public’s routine questions. This would cut down on citizen’s frustration and the inefficient practice of having to listen to so many messages and return calls.
2) More Animal Placements and Fewer Euthanizations: The ACOs are busy much of the time so the door to the Animal Shelter is kept locked and there is usually no one there to open it for citizens who come by. In fact, everyone is expected to call the shelter and make an appointment before they can “drop” by. However, because no one is answering the phone, this is difficult. It also means that the public cannot just stop by the shelter to look for lost pets, nor can they stop by to look at animals to adopt. Because it is difficult for the public to get into the shelter to look at animals to adopt, more animals must be euthanized. If volunteers manned the front office of the shelter, they could let the public in, again cutting down on citizen frustration plus more animals could be adopted.
3) More Humane Treatment of Animals Leads to More Adoptions: The ACOs are busy running Animal Control complaints and caring for the animals in the shelter. They don’t have time to take dogs out of their kennels for play time or walks. They don’t have time to let the cats out of their cages to be petted and played with. Without this vital socialization, the animals get less and less adoptable. When someone does visit to look at dogs to adopt, the dogs are so excited to get out of their kennels they act too wild. This is a viscous circle. The longer the dogs are in the shelter, the less adoptable they are because they are overly excited when they are let out. The less adoptable they are, the longer they are in the shelter. Until finally, the shelter is full and dogs must be euthanized. Notice that I am not even going to touch on the ethics of the city having animals in their care that are not allowed out of confinement for days on end. In other animal shelters that have volunteer programs, the volunteers spend time working with and socializing the animals. This makes them so much more attractive to potential families.
Volunteers can also give baths, clip painful matted fur, man adoption events, transport dogs to local rescue groups, and help the ACOs keep statistics on the shelter.
Although there is no official volunteer program, I have been volunteering for the shelter since January under the auspices of the shelter director. I have been spending close to 40 hours a week volunteering for the city, and I can tell you this is an
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