Facing public outrage, three Augusta say they hope to see action Tuesday on reducing the city’s animal kill rate and its policy for working with animal rescue groups.
First, the agenda items must get unanimous approval to be added. The issues came to a head Thursday, after the agenda was finalized, when an Augusta Chronicle editorial called on readers to relay their concerns about Augusta Animal Services Director Sharon Broady’s unwillingness to work with rescue groups, even when healthy young animals seem to be being needlessly slaughtered.
Interim Augusta Administrator Tameka Allen said at a Thursday news conference the city had heard the concerns and would address them, starting Tuesday. A dog rescue group, Dog Networking Agents, or DNA, will be the first group since the outcry to be allowed to select dogs from the shelter then facilitate their adoptions by new owners after they’re spayed or neutered.
According to The Chronicle’s research, for two years Augusta workers have put down shelter animals 70 percent of the time, resulting in the deaths of more than 13,000 dogs, cats and other animals.
“It makes us look like a cold, cruel community,” Commissioner Grady Smith said. “Every commissioner’s phone is ringing off the hook.”
While other commissioners disagreed, Smith said removing Broady might help the situation.
“This lady has shown she’s lost the public trust,” he said.
Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said he hoped changes in education about the need for sterilizing animals to prevent unwanted pregnancies would help Augusta deal with the huge problem – with licensed rescue groups helping with adoptions in the interim.
“I hope we can work with these licensed rescue groups,” he said.
Also Tuesday, commissioners might consider entering into a contract for veterinarian services, according to interim deputy administrator Steve Cassell, as none applied in response to a city job ad to replace the former veterinarian, who quit.
“We haven’t had much interest in the full-time position,” he said.
Commissioner Mary Davis said she hoped to learn more Tuesday about what animal services needs to decrease the kill rate, increase adoptions and educate the public.
“I want to know what we can do with these rescue groups, what kind of additional resources – staff, funding – are necessary where we can get some improvements to try to lessen these numbers,” Davis said. “Right now, we need to first look at some measures where we can lessen the numbers of animals we put to sleep.”
Davis said the problem was “not so much about the director” who likely was following the commission’s lead. “We haven’t really been getting consistent reports on what we need to be doing proactively.”
The agenda add is in addition to 46 consent agenda items, 10 new agenda items and five speakers lined up to address the commission, including Jodi Pope on the benefits of “no kill” shelters and Alvera Harvey and Jerry Harvey on their brother George Harvey’s death last year after being shocked by Richmond County sheriff’s deputies.
In a new agenda item, Commissioner Marion Williams is taking aim at longtime city consulting firm Heery International over issues associated with ongoing renovations at Augusta Municipal Building and calling for the firm’s removal.
Also, the commission is set to approve a policy change that will exclude the owners of thousands of vacant lots from a new vacant lot garbage fee that appeared on May estimated tax notices.
The meeting starts at 2 p.m. in the commission chamber on the second floor of Augusta Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.