^^Save A Pet^^ Program, the real story, and it ain’t pretty.

The Mayor has referred to her Save A Pet program on several occasions and what is supposed to have been implemented since the launch of this program back in September 2011.   I decided to go through this program and see what is actually happening that is in accordance with the handbook available online and at the facility.  I’ll break it down into sections just like it’s broken down in the booklet so everyone can follow along.  Here we go kids!

1. Comprehensive Adoptions Programs

Posting pictures and adoption availability on the city’s website.

Listed as Tag # 47 Brindle Bulldog Mix (from prior posting)

(The photos taken by the facility are poor quality, some are not even posted, others are posted with inaccurate info, like this one!)

(So, if you’re relying on their website to find your missing dog or cat, or you’re looking at one you may consider adopting, you might want to go there in person.)

An adoption request list is attached to each impoundment card.

(I have hosted off-sites where the original impoundment card could not even be located.)

The Volunteer Coordinator manages offsite adoption  program.

(This is probably the only thing that is actually happening on a regular basis, and run by volunteers without any help from ACCC in regards to transporting the animals to and from the site.  Never mind the fact that the host of an offsite adoption event is required to sign an agreement saying that they will personally accept liability for the animals taken to the event, which may or may not be legal according to the No Kill Advocacy Center’s reply to my email questioning this, you can read more in my blog on that subject, “Offsite adoptions and the question of liability………………..the fight continues.”)

Thank you for contacting us. We’ve never heard of a shelter forcing volunteers to accept liability and question whether it is even legal. The agency is trying to avoid doing what it needs to do to save lives, claiming the false boogeyman of liability. We believe that this shows an insincere desire to save lives, and recommend you campaign for either new leadership or shelter reform: http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/pdf/politadvocacy.pdf

A card will be placed on each cage showing adoption status and known background of each animal.

(Many times there is no information on any of the cages, especially the cat cages, which I have NEVER seen cards attached to, and the only information listed on these cards are the ASSUMED breed, adult/puppy/kitten/impound and adoptable date, if they even got around to putting the card up at all.)

Public Service Announcements on CCG TV

( I can recall only one or two that I saw around Christmas time, and the animals they were showing had been killed by the time it was aired.)

A form will be filled out on surrendered animals stating the name of the animal, breed, age, temperament, medical issues, name of veterinarian, and current vaccination status.

(I have been there several times when an owner is surrendering their animal and this information is only collected if offered by the owner,  I have only ever received one vaccination record, name, status etc. for an owner surrender I pulled myself back in August because he was vetted at PAWS next door, and the owner brought the paperwork with him, but this is NOT happening on  a regular basis.  Just ask any of the rescues who have recently pulled owner surrendered animals from this facility within the last month, no vetting information collected at intake except for maybe the name of the animal, breed, and sometimes an age, but not always.)

The location of where the stray animals were found will be posted on the ACCC website.

(Not always, please see ACCC website for yourself.)

– An area at the ACCC will be designated for volunteers to walk and exercise the animals.

(Where is this and when does this actually happen?  The most that these animals are exercised is when the volunteer photographer goes down there to take their picture while they are in the very inadequate back yard of this facility, which is unsafe for puppies, who can contract Parvo if the yard is not being treated.)

The Columbus Animal Care and Control Center now has a Facebook page.

(Unfortunately it is a closed page where you cannot send them messages, or leave comments on animals you would like to save, because they don’t post the pictures on that page at all, the most they post on the page is how many animals were adopted, pulled by rescue, or returned to owner, they will not state how many, or which tag numbers were killed.  This is information that has been requested on several occasions.)

2. Work with Rescue Groups

The ACCC works with licensed rescue groups so that they may take animals that would otherwise be euthanized.

(They only work with a very few select groups in the area, no out-of-town or out state rescues are EVER contacted by this facility, and when an out-of-state rescue needs assistance they do not do anything to assist the rescue in getting these animals.  Many out-of-state rescues have contacted them and they have not been rescue friendly.)

3. Volunteer Program

“Animal Angel”  Program

These are some of the things the volunteer program is supposed to be helping with:

– Assisting the public with finding a compatible pet companion

– Answering phone calls about lost pets, adoption status of animals at the center.

– Offer advice to owners of pets with medical conditions or behavior issues.

(Volunteers are not trained, neither are the staff to evaluate behavior.)

Contact citizens who have volunteered to pay for medical treatment of sick or injured animals needing immediate medical treatment.

(Most of the sick and injured animals never even make it to the website, and the ones that do, have been pulled by rescue groups, this facility provides no medical treatment for any of the animals in its care.)

Promote exercise and socialization for the animals.

(Animals do not have any interaction with other animals unless they were brought in as strays together, and spend the holding time isolated in the run with little or no interaction from anyone until their adoptable date, which is also the same day they can be killed.  There have been several instances where animals have not even made it to their adoptable date, and this facility refuses to answer why these animals were killed before their 5 days were up.)

Contact licensed rescue groups about taking animals that were not taken by PAWS.

(I do know that the volunteers do try to contact some rescue groups to save these animals, and I will give credit where credit is due, to the VOLUNTEERS, but most rescue groups that pull keep track of incoming animals and notify the shelter in advance of which animals they are interested in pulling.)

Volunteers will transport confirmed feral TNR cats back to their colony.

(If there is no TNR program in place how can this be done, please tell me?)

Volunteers will assist in fostering program. 

(There is no fostering program.)

Ongoing basic medical training for ACCC staff will be explored.


4.  Feral Cat TNR Program

The Trap-Neuter-Release Program Volunteer Coordinator will establish the locations and numbers of known feral cat colonies.  He will solicit other volunteers and establish a list of volunteer guest speakers to speak to various civic groups on the subject of TNR.  He will also be the liaison with the ACCC, PAWS, other shelters and rescue groups as well and the Columbus Animal Control Advisory Board.  The ACCC will work with GIS to geographically identify known feral cat colonies.

(This program is not up and running and feral cats are being trapped and brought into the facility and killed unless a rescue group contacts the facility and notifies ACCC that there is a known feral cat in the facility.)

(There is no TNR program set up with the city to actually spay/neuter these cats and release them, they are only released if they have a tipped ear which designates that they have already been spayed/neutered.)

5. Urgent Medical Treatment Network

A volunteer network is established to pay for emergency medical treatment of those animals that are sick or injured that come into ACCC needing immediate medical treatment (as determined by the city’s contracted veterinarian).

(Recently a volunteer went to the facility to pull a dog that had some kind of problem with its eye and needed help.  Upon requesting they be able to take the dog to a veterinarian, ACCC first denied their request, until it was pointed out that this is part of the Save A Pet program.)

Shouldn’t it be a requirement that the staff, director included, to be aware of the procedures in the program they are supposed to be following? Apparently it is not.  There have been several cases of sick and injured animals sitting at this facility receiving no medical treatment at all until their hold time was up, and a concerned citizen would adopt the animal and take it to their own vet.

There was a particular case of a dog named Oliver who had been hit by a car.  The owner went to ACCC to see if he was there only to be shown a different dog and told on two separate occasions that the dog was not there.  The dog was not in general population and sat at the facility with no treatment until a rescue group pulled him on his adoptable date and took him to the vet, where his leg was then amputated.  This dog had an owner looking for him and they had him locked away in a room in the building suffering with a severely broken leg for DAYS!!!!!  If not for the rescue group finding out he was there and taking him to their vet he would have been killed, even though his owner was looking for him the whole time.  This is what your tax dollars are paying for!  Oliver was eventually reunited with his owner after he recovered here in a foster home and was subsequently transported to Alaska to reunite with his owners who moved with the military.  I ask you, is this acceptable?

6.  Medical and Behavior Program

Volunteers working at the ACCC will offer literature to pet owners relating to medical problems and behavioral issues.  This literature is obtained from organizations such as the SPCA.  The goal of this program is to keep a companion pet united with its owner.  Staff will keep current information of the characteristics of various animal breeds which will be shared with potential adopters.

(I have never seen such literature handed out to anyone in this facility in accordance with this step of their program, nor are these employees qualified to determine breed characteristics when nearly every dog brought in is labeled as a “bull-dog mix”, again, they have received NO TRAINING.)

7.  High Volume/Low Cost Spay/Neuter

By state law all animals adopted from a shelter must be spayed/neutered within 30 days of the adoption.  There is no surgical area or veterinarian on site.  The state allows the center to issue a voucher for spaying or neutering.  The cost of the voucher is $50, which is low compared to most veterinarian office costs.   PAWS will perform the procedure as well as some veterinarians in the area in exchange for the voucher.

(Here is the problem with this little gem, there is no system in place to follow-up to ensure that this is actually being done, and local vets who do accept the voucher will also charge extra for the rabies and microchip that is provided when PAWS does the procedure.  It takes weeks to get an appointment for the surgery at PAWS and I personally know of at least 3 animals recently that have died after having the procedure done at this facility.)

8. Pet Retention Program

As with the medical and behavior program (which we have already established does not exist), the pet retention program’s goal is to keep companion pets united with their owners.  Under this program, volunteers will advise those owners wanting to surrender their animals of other alternatives.  This may include potential adoption contacts who may provide treatment at a reduced cost and providing literature that is directed at any medical or behavior problems the owner may be experiencing with their pet.

(Give me a break!  We know the animal control officers are not handing out pamphlets when they go pick up a dog from someone who has called to surrender their animal!  If an owner must surrender their animal, we give them a list of animal rescue groups in the area that may have available space to take their animals in, leaving us as a last resort.)

(The problem is that the only thing they do when someone comes in to surrender an animal is give them a list of local rescues that are usually so jammed full of animals that there is no space.  Out of state rescues are never suggested, nor are breed specific rescues for those animals that could possibly fit that criteria.  There is a comprehensive list of rescue groups nationwide right next door at PAWS.)

9. Proper Care and Environment

The ACCC provides the best environment possible for the animals based on its resource factors.  The runs and cat cages are cleaned each morning and throughout the day as needed.  All animals are provided water and quality food.   Volunteers exercise animals as well as provide socialization.  They also work with adopters to ensure they and the animals are compatible.  Volunteers explain breed characteristics and proper home care recommendations. 

(Again, there is NO TRAINING to ensure the public is getting the most accurate information, and this does not happen unless the volunteer happens to be in the adoption area at the time the citizen comes to adopt.)

10. Stray and Surrendered Animal Policies

Animals that are turned in by their owners are classified as being “surrendered”.  There are no laws regarding holding time on surrendered animals, therefore they are held as long as space allows in hopes that they will be quickly adopted. (Surrendered animal have been killed upon intake with no calls made to anyone, i.e. rescue groups, a list of potential adopters, etc.)

Animals that are found roaming off their property are classified as “strays”.  By law, these animals are to be held for 5 days in order for their owner to locate and claim them. 

(Animals with microchips and tags have gone without notification on several occasions, even though in some instances their animals was there at the facility.  Only because of concerned citizens and volunteers were the owners made aware of their pet’s whereabouts before it was too late.)

When an animal enters the ACCC facility it is scanned for a microchip and it’s picture is taken. 

Repeat Offender, microchipped, owners not contacted TWICE!!!

(There have been several microchipped animals that have not been scanned until they have been adopted by someone else and taken to a vet only to discover then that the animal has an owner that has been looking for it.  You can read about that in one of my prior blogs “Just push the freakin’ button!”)

A “surrendered animal” policy ensures that every effort is made to save those animals turned in by their owners.

(Then please explain to me why they killed Lexie, a 6 month old puppy who was already spayed and microchipped with a potential adopter waiting to pick her up as soon as the door opened the next business day?  You can read about that on another prior blog “Nothing has changed, the needless killing continues.”)

Ok, so I’ve broken it down for you piece by piece.  This is the program the Mayor is so proud of.  Is she really that arrogant to think that her program is better than the proven life saving methods presented in the No Kill Equation?  I guess we already go her answer.  According to the WRBL Special Report:

“Instead of jumping into something that sounded very good, we decided to take a more thorough approach and develop the save a pet program, that we’re quite proud of,” says Mayor Tomlinson.

Why not learn more about the No Kill Equation and how it’s being implemented successfully in shelters across the country?  No, No, No, let’s make up our own program because that will surely be much more effective!  Again, the arrogance astounds me.

“I struggle with why we’re having such strong criticism from such a small group of folks, when there are so many other communities that are so far behind us, where their efforts and passions might be better directed.”

In other words, “You animal rescuers are really ticking me off, can’t you just be happy that we’re not killing ALL of the animals?  Go pick on a shelter that is worse than ours and leave me alone!”

If you think we’re going to give up, take our ball, and go home you’re wrong Madam Mayor!  The No Kill Movementis here and it’s not going anywhere.  So either get on board or get the hell out-of-the-way!  

Pouty pants!

8 responses to “^^Save A Pet^^ Program, the real story, and it ain’t pretty.

  • Kat

    Very good breakdown of what’s been promised and what’s actually being done. Maybe with enough voices, this will begin to be heard. Thank you…

  • lacey lodge


  • Linda

    I am one who rescued a dog with a broken hip, he could not even stand up, and lay in the pound for 4 days with no relief; he was certainly not adoptable, unable to walk and making a mess all over himself. I was not looking to get another dog, but I had to adopt him to take him to my personal vet to have surgery to pin his hip and have his leg reset. I wonder what the contracted vet actually does there?
    I think one of the most distressing things is the microchipped pets who do not get scanned and have little hope of returning home. I can not imagine a solution when ACC continues to insist that all the animals are scanned numerous times. Before you will look for solutions, you have to admit a problem exists…

    • Meg Givans

      Thank you Ms. Linda. I hope that sweetheart is doing better, I know if it wasn’t for you that dog would surely be dead. Which is not harmful according to our Mayor! See you soon!

  • Mia Sion MacFarlane

    Years ago I managed a pet shop in Northern Michigan where we would bring animals in from the shelter on weekends for people to see and possibly adopt. Our animal shelter was a no kill shelter and it worked. Today it is still a no kill shelter. That mayor needs some educating as to what no kill means. The staff at that shelter need educating and if they are not going to do the job they are there to do, they need to be replaced with caring compassionate people who will do exactly what is expected of them. All my dogs have been rescue dogs. I think more people in the community should get involved by becoming a foster home for animals, then maybe they can save more of those animals. If it is too much trouble for that shelter to do the job they are supposed to do, find someone that will.

  • Carolyn Dorer

    When I messaged the mayor on facebook the following:

    Hi Mayor Tomlinson, I have been trying for weeks now to figure out how to ask you why some things are happening in Columbus, the city which I have lived in all of my life. I have heard that there are dog fighting rings which are known to different city officials but are not stopped because the people who own the rings give a cut of the earnings to those officials.

    I am also under the understanding that the Shelter is supposed to be a NO KILL shelter but I keep hearing how a LARGE number of cats, dogs, kittens and puppies are killed daily. There are people who have called and left messages, sent e-mails and tried a number of times to contact the shelter to let them know that they want to adopt an animal only to get to the shelter to find that if they had been 5-10 minutes sooner they could have adopted that animal, however, because they were not, the animal is now dead.

    I have also heard that the Animal Control and Shelter is NOT scanning dogs, cats, kittens, puppies for micro chips. If an animal has a chip and it is not scanned then that animal can not be picked up by the owners!! My question is WHY is the animals not being scanned? It is not hard to run the scanner across the animal’s shoulders. I have heard of animals being adopted and taken to vets only to find out that the animal has a chip and the owner has been looking for them.

    Can you please help me understand why all of this is going on when it is my understanding that you have implemented a NO KILL Policy at the shelter and have said on numerous occasions that the people at the shelter are scanning for chips?

    The reply I received was:

    Carolyn – You have come into a lot of misinformation. We have a dog fighting tactical unit we have not had a call, tip,or lead about dog fight since July. If you have any info,let me know ASAP. We do scan all animals multiple times. There were several hips Issas do to an older scanner. We have replaced that one and gotten others. We are not a No Kill Shelter, as there are issues with that policy. We are a Save a Pet facility and were recently commended by PETA, which warned us not to b led to the irresponsible policies of this urging No Kill in Columbus. I hope this hops and allays your concerns.

    So here it is folks in black and white…As you can see, this is a cop out!!

    • Meg Givans

      Thank you Carolyn, this is a prime example of the confusion created by the Save A Pet program and the double talking from the Mayor’s office and the staff at ACC. Many citizens don’t even know what the policies and procedures are in this city and what is actual fact vs/ fiction. She has now declared that she has been doing her “research” through PETA! Are you kidding me! She will never hear the end of this one! She’s only making things worse for herself.

  • Susan Peterson

    Well here it is the infamous Save A Pet Program. What exactly is the Mayor so proud of? The people at AC don’t do the things spelled out in this great plan. There is little or no info.on the animals there. Have tried to get Columbus Animal Control to let. me working with a Great Dane Rescue group out of Tenn. Help with these large hard to place dogs and was refused. They clearly don’t want to help make things better for these animals. I am just at a loss for words. I just wish Mayor Tomlinson would just own up and say she doesn’t know what is getting done abut the problems there. save a pet sounds all foo foo fluffy but it accomplishes nothing. Wow!!!!!!! Oh yea and the mayor continues to say a small group people are questioning this program and exposing it for the failure it is, I guess that’s just the small group of troublemakers too.The group, my friend, is growing and growing and growing. Our entire city is watching and getting upset about this. You can’t hide behind that program that no one is using and talk about how proud of it you are.

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