Webinar presenters Ed Jamison, Scott Giacoppo and Nick Lippincott answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Seeing Clearly in 2020: Trends and Challenges in Animal Control. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: From your vantage point as a national organization what’s your sense of things? Are most agencies moving or have moved to microchips at this point.
Ed Jamison: I’ll jump in there I think most have whether they’re mandatory, you know, whether they’ve replaced licensing I think most places are putting microchips in and at least as the animal is leaving the facility. So, I think that that is the trend, there is some cost that they’re not that expensive to get in and I think that that trend is definitely happening and I think that eventually, it will do away with even if that is what’s being used as the licensing the microchip is what the whole industry is moving towards.
Scott Giacoppo: I agree with you on that and I think we’re doing the same we’re starting to look at that exact thing. I’m moving as you know, we are going to license they would be through a chip or something like that because it’s a one-stop-shop and nowadays, everything’s moved, you know, such a digital format, but I can so easily pull up information and integrate so well into all of our systems regardless of what we use.
Ed Jamison: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s a proven strategy. I mean it’s proven to get more pets home than licensing has by leaps and bounds. So, I think that’s what it boils down to is that it’s proven to work whereas licensing and I’m not again going to debating that issue, but it’s proven to be critical in getting animals home. That’s why more and more agencies are relying on them
Audience Question: How do you cover the cost of these responsible pet owner programs?
Nick Lippincott: Yeah, so really what’s nice about there are a couple of different models that have been out there, but the only real cost we’ve had to incur because our citation they can run up to, you know, 500 dollars for a max violation. But a lot of the time that one is on the County’s none of that coming back to us. What our big focus is just being you know the told you actually get the course out there. And well, I have a pool of a hundred incredibly well-trained employees and a quarter of those being supervisory or lead staff who have been in the industry, you know the majority of their life. So, the only cause we incur is if they’re not salary, is a little bit of overtime in actually presenting the course. You know for our course for us is we do it once a month on Wednesday night after work. We let everybody sign up and that’s really the only major, you know time restraint and kind of pull. Otherwise, you know, the time to build out, of course, there’s so many resources out there. I’m happy to send you know any information on there actually have that as an option. If you go back and watch the webinar that we did before, responsible pet ownership course, and build out that course. They still may have to handle court costs like that, and there’s a small fee that the city or the county and taking to kind of sign them up small pennies and seven dollars. I think maybe as opposed to 200 220 which for us we’ve been able to maintain this for again since going since 1997. Now if we start looking at other models where there may be an online version there. Might be more of a cost associated with that with maintaining it which could be, you know looked at. We don’t use that model. I’ve looked at it but this is one of those programs where that face-to-face and really answering the question and giving examples and the anecdotal stories that we are telling that everybody in the public is blown away, those things make an impact in a course like that where we get, you know face to face.
Audience Question: Why did Dallas Animal Services take over DOA pick up?
Ed Jamison: I didn’t want to, however, it made sense. All of the resources came with it, the staffing the vehicles and everything. We have provided all of the dead animal pickup personnel with microchip scanners and there were things that we were asking to be done for information to come back to us and we just weren’t able to do it with it being in another department. So all of the resources, it’s actually if you’re in government world is the chargeback, back to sanitation is who had it. So now we have more control over. I think there’s a story to be told in dead animals in the city. I don’t know yet. But now we’re at least able to get that data and start recording the data to see. It also helps that Dallas Police Department does animal cruelty for the city of Dallas. So, when there was an animal found by dead animal pickup that meets any of these certain qualifications, then they’re able to contact Dallas Police Department right away. So I didn’t want it, I didn’t need an extra I think it’s sixteen or eighteen thousand service requests a year in my life. And those weren’t included in the service request you saw there. But it just made sense for how Dallas operates.
Scott Giacoppo: And I’m so glad you clarified that because I was going to be calling you right after this webinar to say, why did anyone who knows me knows how much I am opposed to animal control unless you get I mean your situation I would have totally agree as long as you get the staff and it’s a separate program from field operations in that regard.
Audience Question: If you don’t have pet licensing funding in your operations in Dallas, then what is it? Property taxes? And if so, what is their annual budget?
Ed Jamison Yeah, it is from the general fund the city of Dallas general fund. I’m not going to say how much I don’t even know what the entire city budget is, but our budget is fifteen point eight million is what our budget we’re working on right now. It was vastly underfunded for years and there was a huge study done in 2017 by the Boston consulting firm and they measured other like-sized shelters. So things like Houston, San Antonio, the other ones that have big huge populations like ours. And we got more in line with these other big cities.
Audience Question: How did you overcome city regulations on signage? I don’t remember which one of you were talking about this. She gets to a point here, it’s illegal to post flyers on polls here in my city. So what how did you guys get around that or how do you address that?
Ed Jamison: Yes, we do. Go back to try to pick up the Flyers. We rotate out the colors by dates. I want to save every month. We change the different colors so that when an officer sees a different color flyer, they take it down. It is technically still on the books here in Dallas. It’s not something that the code is able to enforce, although I did call and talk to the code director on this. So the fact that so much of these are happening and we’re getting the animal home the officer goes back and takes that off especially if they take the animal home, that hey there’s no reason for that one be out, but we do make an attempt to get back and take off the flyers.
Scott Giacoppo: Also Maricopa County, Arizona. They have yard signs. It’s the I think and I believe they were donated by a sign company. It’s very similar where they just fill it out like a dry erase marker on the found dog flyer sign and then they put it they basically put it wherever the dog was found. So they’re not posting it on poles or anything. They’re actually putting it in people’s yards with their permission or on public property and they’re doing the same thing. They’re going back and getting them later. But that would be one way around it. If you’re not allowed to post on poles and trees and so forth. What about signs in private people’s yards who the people person who called in the missing part of the roaming dog? That would be one way
Ed Jamison: The only other thing I would say is, you know, just to wrap up on that to kind of go full circle in regards to you know, reaching out and working with our other agencies. I said we contacted, you know the city and explained it to them. I’ll tell you right now in my county, you know, if I made a phone call, citizens need a phone call to a commissioner, you know. The call that would fall on the priority list while the time is hey, if I post this sign I’m more likely to get a dog home and prevent the dog running through the street or something like that, you know lost dog, found dog. And to get it off and owner can get it might have a higher wait than you know the code of the site being up and there might be as something to be worked out there. So, you know, having that conversation and realizing that there’s a huge pool of people in our counties, agencies, and cities that are willing to you know, step up and help, you know Health Service director for us, huge animal lover. She’s going to help us do whatever we need to do. We didn’t know that so we went and talked with her. So, you having that conversation. And getting creative and reaching out to the other agencies who might have solutions like Scott with the yard signs. There are more than enough ways to solve these problems out there.
Audience Question: Regarding the Dallas Field RTO methodology, how did you persuade your city council or overseeing agency to allow your ACOs to take the time required to print and post flyers, talk to neighbors, etc. How did you deal with the bureaucracy on that?
Ed Jamison: Well luckily, when I came into Dallas we had just become an independent Department. We were under another department before. So yeah, the layers of bureaucracy when you’re not solo. I know everybody doesn’t have that luxury. So I’m able to ultimately make the decisions and by recording information and data. It would in the report back on it. There wasn’t much pushback believe it or not is more old school advocates are the ones who actually still pushed back on that who have the sense that people aren’t good or they shouldn’t have an animal. Why are you giving that animal to that person? By all means, if the animal was neglected or there’s cruelty, we’ve got mechanisms. It goes over to over to DPD, but I think that my officers once they got it. They’re tasked with dealing with loose dogs in Dallas and they’re out by the thousands. So, they would bring in truckloads and truckloads, like we average a hundred and ten animals every single day last year. So, as an option to try to still get the compliance, they still got that animal for being loose in the streets, which is what the city said was the most important. They also challenged me to find life-saving as well too. So bringing it into the shelter where we only have one building for this huge city of one point three million people. The chances of it getting reclaimed from the shelter and the extra staff their extra resources to get the animal fixed and other things we would have to do for it to leave. These Fix-It tickets really was a brilliant idea that I don’t get to take credit for, that was done before I got in. We’re able to get what everybody wants and city council actually is happy their constituents their animals are getting returned to their constituents. So, instead of the mean dog catcher came and took my dog away now, they’re getting thank you notes even after they may have just got two or three citations Fix-It tickets with it. The council people are hearing, please thank Animal Control. They got my lost dog back home. And now I also am going to be able to get the animal fixed and get into compliance.
Scott Giacoppo: So, add to that, officers should be doing this across the board anyway, but read your laws, know your laws. Some laws will say Animal Control shall pick up and impound all dogs found running at large. Some ordinances say Animal Control May pick up an impound all dogs found running at large. And there’s a big difference between may and shall in the way our laws are written and how we enforce those laws. And a lot of places don’t even realize that there’s a difference in the law that you are enforcing because one of the things officers don’t generally get taught unless you have that formal training program that we talked about earlier is to actually read and know your laws and work together as a team on how you’re going to interpret and enforce those laws. Because you’d be amazed at how many laws out there only say Animal Control may impound all the animals found running at large or shall impound. So, once you know the laws if it doesn’t say you can’t do it, you can do it.
Ed Jamison: Yeah, and I think you need to look at as well, there’s some places that the licensing requirement is why some agencies are not doing return to owner feel. We can’t let go, or release the animal without it being licensed. So again, that’s where I would then challenge that jurisdiction to actually look at the data how many of those that you knew who the owner was and you didn’t get the animal back there because you were requiring a license and you couldn’t license in the field due to the money exchange or whatever. Most elected officials if you can show them data on it. Hey, we might have had an 8% higher live release, have you been able to get that animal back? We have all the person’s information. My people have to create an A number, a P number. So it’s an animal number a person number. The animal must be contained in our transaction. And then any of the applicable citations issued is all those things have to happen in order for that animal be returned in again. I don’t know how successful it would be but the numbers don’t lie. It’s really really helped us to be able to get these animals back to their owners and compliance
Scott Giacoppo: And even along those lines, if what you’re doing could be classified as an impound because if it says even if it says the even if your ordinance says officer shall impound animals found running at large, you can say that what you’re doing is an impound. That’s right. It doesn’t say it has to be impounded to the shelter. Some places do. Now, I was just with a city that the law did say shall be impounded in held at the County shelter for a minimum of ten days. Which then opens up the question. Can they do an RTO at all according to law, right? But that’s beside the point. That’s another discussion.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Seeing Clearly in 2020: Trends and Challenges in Animal Control.