Animal Care Services Issues Response to Recent Criticism

The program director of the Corpus Christi's Animal Care Services responded Thursday to some criticism her department has recently received.

In the most recent case, the organization known as People Assisting Animal Control spoke out at a this week's City Council meeting and raised some concerns about policy at the ACS.

Heather Hedrick, the program manager of Animal Care Services, released a statement Thursday saying in part, "On an average day, you may see empty kennels, but what you may not know is that the kennel may be spoken for."

She added that "kennel space must be available to the field Animal Control officers or they will have no way to actually do their job and pick up stray or neglected animals."

Read Hedrick's entire statement below:

"Let's Do The Math...

Between Monday 7/14 and today at 3:55 (Wed. 7/16) we have impounded 54 dogs (cats are not included.) The majority of these were brought in as strays, and picked up in the city limits of Corpus Christi by the Field ACOs.

Within the facility, we have 75 dog kennels. A few of those are closed due to needing immediate repairs (broken door, clogged drain..etc.)

Per City Ordinance, the stray hold time is:
3 days for strays.
5 days for owned animals.

We are mandated to pick up strays, injured animals, and seize animals from hoarding/cruelty cases. We also take in Owner Surrendered animals and often come in to find dogs tied to our doors or left on our doorstep. We are a Municipal Animal Control shelter and the only shelter in Corpus Christi that is required to do these things.

We are often criticized for not taking in enough animals when we are full, having empty kennels, euthanizing animals, or not picking up enough strays. We are also criticized for not holding the animals longer than their hold-time. However if you look at the numbers above, you will see that we are in a tough position.

On an average day you may see empty kennels, but what you may not know is that the kennel may be spoken for. Animals could be in the clinic having surgery, being bathed, or photographed. Owner surrendered animals are placed on a waiting list with a date to return, which we reserve that kennel for that particular day. Kennel space MUST be available to the Field ACOs or they will have no way to actually do their job and pick up stray or neglected animals. If we know we are working on a warrant to seize a large number or animals, we must keep space open for the seized animals. Otherwise, we cease to function as an enforcement and animal welfare entity and will be only a shelter full of homeless animals.

Last November and December 2013, our temporary kennel staff had dwindled to an all time low. We do not have actual City Employees to do the main work within the kennels. We were approved to hire temporary employees from local staffing agencies. Most temp employees are seeking fulltime jobs with benefits and will eventually move on. Not to mention that no one likes to wash kennels in the cold weather. Our Vet, Dr.Draper used a special shelter management math formula that allows us to calculate the amount of staff per kennel ratio that will keep us in compliance with proper and humane shelter standards. We were forced for a brief time to close various kennels. Also, if we bring in a dog that we later find out has parvo, we then shut that building down for a day to sanitize. Since late January, our staffing numbers have started to increase and we are now properly staffed in the kennels. If you see an empty kennel now, there is a specific reason why.

Mathematically, the above equation will always be our enemy. Corpus Christi has a stray animal problem that is bigger than our little department can handle. There is no quick fix to this problem. Community coalition building is the only way to start battling this issue.

In the last 12 months, CCACS has moved mountains towards progression. Sure, there have been ups and downs. This is typical with any type of business changes. But the one thing that has consistent is that the staff at CCACS are dedicated to the animals and to the citizens of Corpus Christi.  We are doing the absolute best we can.

We ask that you check Pet Harbor DAILY for the new animals that come in. Share our posts. Come by 2626 Holly Rd. and visit with animals. Volunteer and foster for local rescue groups.  Volunteer with the VIPS program. Anyone can take photos of animals. Anyone can tour the facility.

Our facility is an open book and we are truly dedicated to community awareness, education and networking.

Helps us help the animals."
Heather Hedrick, Program Manager


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