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Recently, a petition was launched on Change.org suggesting that the City of Gary’s Animal Control facility and services be transferred to Lake County Animal Control (LCAC). In light of the claims raised by concerned citizens, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson issued the following statement:
“We are certainly aware of the concerns that have been expressed regarding the city’s Animal Control facility, and the staff has been working with rescue groups and committed volunteers to improve the environment for the animals that occupy the building. The current Animal Control staff is fully trained with proper certifications to handle animals and operate the facility. However, the outdated structure presents challenges as they seek to give these animals the care they need and deserve.
There is a need for a new or renovated facility that can accommodate the quarantine of infected animals. Because current budget restraints don’t allow for the construction or renovation of a facility using city dollars, we are exploring other ways to accomplish this goal. Most recently, representatives from the Bissell Pet Foundation in partnership with Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) have come forward to offer their assistance.
From July 8-12, 2013 ARC President Scotlund Haisley will visit our Animal Control facility to conduct a needs assessment at no cost. He and his team will assess all elements of Gary’s Animal Control field and shelter operations, identify any deficiencies, make recommendations on cutting costs while maximizing efficiency and effectiveness, and suggest ways to expand and improve service. Areas to be assessed include but are not limited to budget, facility, staff, training, database system, customer service, emergency plan, animal handling, animal enrichment, behavior assessments, veterinary care, housing quality, intake protocol, euthanasia criteria and protocol, adoption program and policies, community outreach, shelter and rescue partnerships, food program, volunteer program, foster program, etc.
The above assessment is only the beginning. Once ARC reps report their findings, which will take approximately 3 weeks, recommendations can then be made to the Bissell Pet Foundation on how they can help with the implementation of these findings. It is our hope that this partnership will lead to the building of a new facility or complete renovation of the current or an alternate building in the city.
Our Animal Control division is an enforcement agency that serves the residents of Gary. While there have been suggestions in the past to move the services to Lake County, we have been advised that LCAC cannot handle the volume of animals that Gary Animal Control impounds on a daily basis.
Currently, our Animal Control team is developing a contingency plan that will outline the immediate next steps for addressing the housing situation for these animals, and these measures will be shared publicly by July 1. Our first priority is to provide a safe and sanitary location for these animals to dwell until rescued. Ideally, we want to keep these vital services here in our community. A city of Gary’s size and population deserves it.
Finally, I would like to thank the citizens of Gary and surrounding communities for their outpour of concern, and ask that they continue to volunteer and support the Animal Control Department as we work through these challenges.”
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