During its Feb. 12 work session, the Fort Worth City Council received an informal report on Animal Care and Control (ACC) within the city. This was in response to a request by council at the Jan. 15 work session.
ACC is designed to serve and protect the public, care for the animals in custody, and prevent animal cruelty. ACC focuses first on education, followed by voluntary compliance and lastly enforcement.
A comparison of numbers in recent years shows some significant changes, particularly since 2014:
*Live release rate – 90.58 in 2018, 91.41 in 2017, 65.65 in 2014.
*Dog impounded – 12,308 in 2018; 12, 093 in 2017; 10,446 in 2014.
*Pets returned to owner – 3,051 in 2018; 2,835 in 2017; 1,342 in 2014.
*Pets returned to owner in field – 1,516 in 2018; 1,237 in 2017; 127 in 2014.
*Volunteer hours – 23,493 in 2018; 9,259 in 2017; unknown in 2014.
*Monetary donations/grants $299,146 in 2018; $185,128 in 2017; $80,766 in 2014.
Public Health and Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett said the success is “due to the staff that makes the director look good and the city look good.”
Recent highlights include:
*Evening/after-hours services – Continue to integrate/train ACC staff into other code compliance services so that evening and call-out staff can handle both animal and unique after-hours inspections for other staff. All code compliance staff are subject to 24/7 call-out and/or scheduling of after-hours services for projects and unique circumstances.
*Animal transport – Through the use of volunteers, ACC began transporting animals for adoption in other states (Maine, Washington, Oregon, Washington, D.C. so far) through a public-private endeavor between the city, the Chuck Silcox Foundation and North Texas Community Foundation. The goal is to transport 1,800 animals per year, funded and administered through this program/donations.
*Donation of adoption/transport trailer and truck – In fiscal year 2018, North Texas Communities Foundation (NTCF), at a donor’s request, donated to the city an adoption/transport trailer, valued at approximately $57,000. At the Feb. 12 meeting, council voted to accept an additional donation from NTCF, a Ford F450 Truck, also valued at approximately $57,000, to tow the trailer and be available, as needed, to tow the code compliance’s emergency response trailer to assist with disaster response/community projects.
*First Annual Mega-Adoption Event – On Dec. 8-9, ACC partnered with the Humane Society of North Texas and the PetCo Foundation with assistance from the Fort Worth Police Department, event staff at the Will Rogers facility, volunteers and staff. The goal was 500 adoptions, but at the end of a long weekend, 861 animals were adopted.
New shelter manager and shelter veterinarian – Through a national search, ACC recently hired Jessica Brown, from Detroit Animal Care and Control, as the new shelter manager, and Dr. Ronald Epps, from Waco Animal Care & Shelter, as the new lead shelter veterinarian.
Chapter 6 Ordinance rewrite – ACC, the legal department and citizens (through multiple public meetings) revised, strengthened and simplified the Animal Chapter so that all animal related ordinances are either in Chapter 6 or referenced in Chapter 6. The ordinance now requires microchips in lieu of most city licensing, dangerous and aggressive dog enforcement was simplified and strengthened.
Special operations – A code supervisor and two three member teams specialize in impounding stray dogs from the streets of Fort Worth. These teams utilize geographic information system heat maps to target areas with increased stray dog complaints and assist district officers in difficult stray dog cases. They employ specialized equipment and techniques to capture stray dogs and to abate nuisance coyotes and feral hogs.
Low Cost/No Cost Spay/Neuter – All medically and age-appropriate dogs and cats are sterilized prior to adoption or transfer. ACC currently partners with Texas Coalition for Animal Protection and Spay Neuter Network to sterilize the rest after adoption/transfer and to provide low and no-cost spay/neuter services in under-served communities. In the past year, ACC utilized grants to provide payment vouchers, transportation, general information and scheduling for spay/neuter surgeries at partner facilities.
U.S. Conference of Mayors Grant – ACC, working with the mayor’s office, won a national competition to be awarded as a Better Cities for Pets. This past June in Boston, Mayor Betsy Price accepted the award and a $50,000 grant, which is being used the further the city’s Pets For Life program working alongside other City departments in under-served communities (focusing on Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives: Stop Six, Ash Crescent, Northside).
New North Animal Shelter – Design is well underway for the city’s new/second animal shelter in far northwest Fort Worth, funded through the 2018 Bond Program. Public engagement meetings on shelter and campus design and information will begin in March. Groundbreaking should be this coming winter with a grand opening scheduled for the early 2021.