UPDATE: 08/22/2011 AT 1:00 PM
Maria Hall of the Canton Health Department (CHD) emailed a copy of the results of her inspection earlier today.
What follows at the end of this introductory material is a complete publication of her findings. It appears that SCDPAB President Nanci Miller is to be highly commended for getting the CHD involved. Citizen activism is an important component in making local government work effectively.
The SCPR also commends Ms. Hall and the Canton Health Department for getting to work on Ms. Miller's complaint immediately and getting the quick results that are apparent in Ms. Hall's report.
Here is the report:
Revisited the location today before the place got open to the public. Reagan and the pound staff were there, GR workers just getting in. Morning cleaning had not been started. Note immediately that some doors now have drag strips on them. Reagan said that she has more on order, they bought all that the hardware store had in stock. They expect these in soon and will be applied to the rest of the doors. Just the few door strips in place has been a tremendous difference. The volunteer room is clean and tidy, although there is mouse feces noted and a dead mouse present, they have eliminated harborage areas as well as gotten the dog food stored away from this area. One of the staff is getting some metal, lidded barrels from Nickel's Bakery to store food in to help cut the problem, see if this will assist with not just the rodent issue but also with molding. They are also gathering supplies to make the doors that are rusted out solid again. Terminix is coming weekly at this time to replenish baits in the bait boxes scattered throughout the facility and to check how things are coming along. Reagan showed me where Terminix indicated a dryer vent that was allowing mice entrance, which she immediately made repairs. She notes that the Terminix employee said this has been like this "for years". One of her employees did some checking and found that there is a pressure problem involved with the air conditioner and heating systems which was part of the humidity problem in the building. She is going to have their contractor come out and look at this to determine if they can do something to fix this. Currently they are manually over-riding the fans that were kicking on and bringing humid warm outside air inside, raising the humidity. This has helped tremendously with the humidity in the building. However, several outside doors are propped open in an attempt to further aid in the ventilation of the pens, which is something that the pound will have to address in order to prevent their open doors from being an entrance point for mice or other rodents (nearby Nimisilla Creek is a natural habitat for rats and not far away is a metal scrapyard which has in the past had significant problems with rats). It is important for them to be able to maintain the doors closed as much as possible.
Spoke to Reagan about the need to train all people who work in the facility to the IPM plan (part of my order) and to make those things in their plan part of their policies/procedures.The repairs and baits will not be enough if doors remain propped open (entrance), dog food remains accessible continuously or harborage for rodents exists. The three primary things to limit are those three items: access, food, and harborage. Their IPM will not be complete without addressing all three. She will work on this with Kathy and get something more specific out.
Overall much improvement is noted today. mlh"
In the SCPR's experience, boards/commissions/committees appointed to serve, more often than not, genuflect nearly every time the appointing authority is around them.
But such is not the case with the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB).
The current Stark County Board of Commissioners is not very happy with the current SCDPAB, especially President Nanci Miller.
Moreover, The Report hears that the Commish was not pleased with board members Sally Roush and Judy Miller for agreeing to share with the SCPR (on camera) their frustrations with "nothing getting done" by the commissioners in the way of correcting long standing problems (probably in the neighborhood of 10 years) with the management and operation of the Stark County Dog Pound (Pound).
Back in the days that Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks constituted the commissioner board, the SCPR recalls the advisory board being reminded by commissioners that they were advisers and not deciders and they should not forget that.
The SCPR honors the advisory board for standing up to the commissioners (a group that says it is about restoring local government trust in the context of accountability, accessibility, transparency, responsiveness and community interaction) on their clear failure (mostly historical - i.e. former boards) to deal with the seemingly interminable problems at the Stark County Dog Pound (Pound).
While they can "bark for themselves," they need people like the good folks who constitute the SCDPAB to speak "human-ese" to the commissioners. Seemingly, the commissioners cannot even understand common English. And, it appears, they are into "no good deed goes unpunished" is admonishing board members not to talk to the media and not to avail themselves of other agencies of local government to correct violations of law.
Very unimpressive, commissioners!!!
While The Report has written frequently that the arrival of Commissioners Janet Creighton and Tom Bernabei "seemed?" to have makings of changing the culture at the commissioners' office and, perhaps, in Stark County government in general, yours truly is growing less and less confident that there is reality behind the commissioners rhetoric and it could be that the SCPR "jumped the gun" in surmising that Stark County local government credibility is on the upswing.
One could even understand their unhappiness with SCDPAB members airing their grievances with the media and the health department if the Pound failures were new. But they are not. They, The Report repeats, are long standing. And for the commissioners to attempt a clamp-down on the advisers looking out for animals which cannot fend for themselves betrays the commissioners' supposed commitment to "transparency."
How they handle the Pound problems will go a long way for The Report in assessing whether or not Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson are a significant improvement over former boards. Or, are the simply more of the same?
Remember, these UNPAID advisers (the commissioners are paid rather well: upwards of $80,000 per years for a combined total of about "a quarter of a million dollars") are well respected Stark Countians who have been appointed by the commissioners. But appointed to what end (from the commissioners standpoint)? To be lapdogs? (no pun intended)
As stated earlier in this blog, - to their credit - SCDPAB members are not spineless as many board and appointee members throughout Stark county are.
They have been patient. The Report's information is that the Pound has been in disarray for some ten years now.
And many, if not all of them, VOLUNTEER additional time at the Pound itself doing things that they say hired employees will not do. Also, these folks are known to dip into their personal funds to buy supplies and equipment that should be coming from the "enterprise-esque" (supported by licenses and other fees) Stark County Dog Pound.
In September, many of these folks are doing a fundraiser so that they can buy equipment to solve a ventilation problem at the county's facility.
Stark Countians, who want to make county government, Stark's villages, townships, cities and boards of education trust generating entities; need to emulate the SCDPAB in proactively interacting with all the aforementioned levels of political subdivision government.
To catch up on the background of the relationship between the commissioners and the advisers, readers should peruse the blog in question (LINK UP HERE) in order to gain a full appreciation of the commissioners dissatisfaction with these SCDPAB members.
There have been run-ins between the commissioners (the Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks board) and the advisory board, in general.
One such notable occasion was between board member Steve Shank and Stark County Chief Administrator Mike Hanke when they locked horns on whether or not Shank (also a Canton policeman) had passed on being part of the commissioner dominated interview team which ended up selecting current Stark County Dog Warden Reagan Tetreault to succeed the fired Evert Gibson (April, 2010).
The SCDPAB was key in stopping the commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) from hiring a person (believed by The Report to have been Bosley's choice) brought at the last moment into the selection process.
Another occasion was when various SCDPAB members called Commissioner Ferguson on whether or not he "flipped-flopped" on seeing or not-seeing a video showing a Pound employee abusing a dog housed at the Pound.
It appears that there is about to be another clash between the advisers and commissioners.
Board president Nanci Miller filed a complaint with the Canton Health Department (CHD - August 5th) against (in effect) the commissioners for allowing an intolerable condition to exist unabated (an infestation of mice) for way too long. The CHD investigated (August 8th) and issued a remediation order on commissioners for compliance not later than August 17th.
The Pound did respond on August 17th:
Miller's action is just "the tip of the iceberg" of adviser dissatisfaction with the current board of commissioners.
At Thursday nights SCDPAB meeting (August , member Judy King presented a thorough accounting of the problems at the Pound which need immediate attention which in turn is to be "shared" with Stark County commissioners, perhaps, as early as Monday's regularly scheduled 10:00 a.m. work session. That is, if commissioners can find space for the advisers.
Included in King's list are the following items:
- inhumane treatment of dogs by Pound employees.
- she cites a recent incident in which she says video shows employee "demonstrate[s] his blatant disregard of humane treatment in his handling of dogs." See video below and judge for yourself.
- "the [ - refusal - ] by paid staff to do what they are asked to do and supposed to do[,] continues."
- she cites an August 16th incident in which she claims another employee "refused to clean under wire bottomed cages."
- Warden Reagan Tetreault's failure (emphasis added) to keep "promised ... changes and improvements," to wit:
- to convert a former pit bull room into a puppy room "to keep the more vulnerable puppies protected from disease."
- to convert a former euthanasia room into a visiting veterinarian facility which also housed veterinarian supplies and equipment for use when participating veterinarians showed up.
- to meet with citizen-volunteers and to construct a manual as a reference document for existing and new volunteers who serve gratis at the Pound.
- to stay with a program of special food for undernourished dogs and for puppies.
- to provide for mats in wire-bottomed cages.
- to have a coherent, sensible cost efficient spay/neuter program.
- to have "a consistent [cage] cleaning program so as to curb the spread of disease.
- to cure "faulty office procedures" which "frequently interfere with the [Pound] goal of returned [license-tagged] dogs to their owners and adopting out [other dogs]."
- to create a visitor/prospective volunteer friendly environment.
- to resolve a mouse infestion, to eliminate extensive black mold at the Pound. to correct ventilation inadequacies and to keep equipment in repair.
- to have a proactive dog adoption program as a way to curtail excessive euthanasia numbers.
The SCPR spent an hour with the SCDPAB at its Thursday's monthly public meeting.
Yours truly captured the mounting frustration of board members on camera. A major point of discussion was a recent incident at the Pound in which a dog was darted and because of where the dart penetrated (apparently, a main artery), it bled to death. Board members were very unhappy about how the entire matter was handled. Here is a video of the discussion.
What follows is a kaleidoscope of members discussing their frustrations with what they deem to be a lack of quality of care rendered at the Pound.
More than what The Report has written in this blog which is compelling in and of itself, this video is a MUST SEE for those Stark Countians who want a eyewitness impressions of all that is wrong with the operation of the Stark County Dog Pound and the indignities (to put it mildly) that too many dogs who have the misfortune of being processed through the facility have to endure.