December 4, 2014

Hello, I just wanted to write this and clear up some issues and let everyone know what has been going on at the shelter since I arrived.My first day at the shelter was Wednesday 11-05-2014. I arrived to find a staff with no morale whatsoever, a facility that was filthy from front door to the back door, animals stockpiled in cages in the lobby and what was to be my office. The director’s office had 18 animals in it alone, and was covered in urine and feces.

The shelter was overloaded with animals, 358 to be exact. Every kennel and portable kennel was filled with at least three animals and, in fact, many kennels had as many as five. I need not tell you that this is a perfect scenario for disease and impossible to keep in a sanitary condition — not to mention, in my opinion, inhumane.

Facility cleaning and disinfection was being done all wrong, and was substandard at best. This was not the fault of the staff, they were doing it how they had been told to do. Coccidyia and kennel cough were rampant, Paws was in the shelter, as was Dystemper.

As for the facility, there were non-working electrical outlets, non-working ceiling fans, drains that were stopped up and not flowing, missing air duct grates, kennel doors not functional, etc. The shelter had no medical treatment/lab room for treating animals and giving them medicine — this was being done inside the kennels themselves. No one was trained to perform heartworm tests on the dogs, nor feline leukemia tests on the cats. The Friends Group had purchased the SNAP tests, but they were not being used. There were numerous invoices for unpaid bills to veterinarian clinics, and in fact, the shelter had reached a point of being cut-off for services due to non-payment. We are still finding invoices, and some orders were made without following proper procedural policy. In some instances, the shel-ter has received bills for treatment of dogs that the shelter has no record of being processed in. Records were unorganized and paperwork was strewn from one end to the other. There is much more that I could say and go on about, but you get the idea.

Now I’m going to tell you what has been going on since 11-5-2014.

  1. The shelter staff has had their morale restored, everyone is giving 110%.
  2. The staff now will wear uniform scrubs, provided by the Texarkana Friends of the Shelter (Friends Group).
  3. The kennel staff now have good rubber boots, also provided by the Friends Group. This assists in disease prevention. Cleaning and disinfecting procedures have been changed.
  4. Kennel doors are being repaired and electrical problems have been fixed. Drains have been cleared and are now operating properly. All of this aids in good sanitary conditions.
  5. A Quarantine area has been established, not open to public traffic. This is where sick ani-mals and dangerous animals are held. The public is restricted due to danger and to prevent disease spreading.
  6. Heartworm testing has started at the shelter.
  7. Paperwork and record keeping has been restructured and reorganized.
  8. Rescue groups are actively now assisting the shelter in moving animals out. Donations have picked up.
  9. Past due invoices are being processed and paid. Vet clinics are working with the shelter again.
  10. A medical treatment/lab room has been established. It has a refrigerator, donated, for holding medicines and vaccines that need to be refrigerated. Animals are now taken into that room for treat-ments and shots and to have tests performed.
  11. We currently have an opening for an Animal Control Officer. Interviews have taken place and a new ACO will be hired to start around the first of the year. A vet tech position we hope will be funded as of January, 2015. Other than that, our staff is set!

     This is just a sample of the problems that I walked into when I took over as Director. Also, these are just a few of the achievements we have reached in a month. I love working at the shelter, and I have never backed down from a challenge.

     I want to thank all of the people that have volunteered and stepped up to help and to imple-ment these repairs and changes. I want to thank the Friends Group, and also make mention of the Shelter Advisory Board. The Board has backed me every step, and are constantly, I mean constantly, asking me “What do you need?” I know from experience that without a strong Advisory Board, then little can be done. The shelter and the City of Texarkana are lucky to have such a dedicated and sup-portive Board.

     And finally, in closing, let me say that I am always open for ideas and suggestions. I welcome them. I also welcome anyone that wants to come and see what has been done at the shelter. Any time someone has a question about what is going on at the shelter, feel free to ask me. I will gladly answer your questions. Then you will know for yourself and not be relying on the comments of some-one who has no real idea about what they are talking about who has not been to the shelter them-selves.

     It is easy for someone to say what ought to be done, but expect someone else to do it. To those people I say, “Get in the trenches with me and help or get out of my way.” We still have a ways to go, but we’re getting there. Remember the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I can’t fix all that was or is wrong with the shelter overnight. Trust me I wish all I had to do was wave a magic wand, but I can’t.

Thank You.

Charles Lokey Director Animal Care & Adoption Center Texarkana, USA