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Brevard County Advocacy for Animals
Giving Unwanted Animals a Second Chance
No Kill Advocacy
Brevard County Animal Services Treatment of Sheltered Animals
Critics Swarm Brevard's Animal Services Agency


Dennis Peer's E-Mails Outlining Issues With the Brevard County Animal Services

Also Read Dennis Peer's E-Mail: WHERE DO DONATIONS TO BREVARD COUNTY SHELTERS REALLY GO?


Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2013 05:46:52 -0700
From: dlpeer@bellsouth.net
Subject: Re: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO ADOPTION EVENTS AT OUR SHELTERS?
To: mythsdreams@hotmail.com

HI Jerry,
I have Volunteer at the shelter for over 10years and started a nonprofit group over 10 years ago to assist people that couldn't afford to pay for spaying neutering of their pets.I have over the year attended many meeting frighting for the Animals of Brevard County from the City Manager, Commissioner and all the shelter officials .We started the first County ran Spay and neuter program which the County drop the ball..You can use this letter and the one I'm attaching or anything else I stated or wrote !

To: Brevard County Commissioners and Brevard County Animals Services / Shelter Director
Subject: What happen to the County run spay and neuter program?

It has come to my attention that certain local animal rescue organizations are proposing that Brevard County start a Spay-Neuter Program. I whole-heartedly support any and all efforts to increase the accessibility of affordable sterilization for all cats and dogs, and hope any new proposals will meet with more support and success than in the past. Brevard has been in desperate need of more low- and no-cost options for a very long time, proven by unnecessarily high euthanasia rates, and the amount of effort and money spent managing the overpopulation of homeless companion animals.

Do you know/remember that in 2011 such a program was actually instituted for the County’s qualifying low income residents? It was established by Animal Guardians of Brevard (AG) to be run by the County, and all plans were agreed to by the Director of Animal Services (Mike McFarland). AG was to help administer the program for a period of time after which it would be run entirely by the County. Basically, the only things the County was to asked to do were to help promote the program, help solicit/encourage donations and grants, establish a designated spay neuter fund, and some record-keeping. Much of this could have been done by volunteers. The Program was to be entirely self-supporting through donations and grants.

The Program was initially designed for cats with plans to expand for dogs once it was well-established. Several local veterinary clinics graciously supported a county-run program (for the first time) with deeply discounted rates of $45 for sterilization of male and female cats, with rabies and distemper shots included. There were no extra charges for pregnancy, estrus, etc. The Program was billed $25 per cat, paid from the designated fund, and the client was billed a $20 co pay. Animal Guardians paid the $20 co pay for anyone who could not afford it.

Applications were designed and approved by the County and the veterinary clinics, which collected them and verified eligibility at the time of surgery. Promotional posters were made for display in the shelters and elsewhere. Brochures were printed to be distributed at the shelters, libraries, clinics, and elsewhere. Several viable and promising ideas for funding were targeted from local sources and grants. Promotional plans were identified.

A huge effort by several people went into designing this program, but it barely got off the ground and within a few months it was over. WHY? Because the County took no initiative what so ever and failed to follow through on every single commitment made. From the outset, there was monumental resistance to progress including months-long delays in mounting promotional posters in the shelters, refusing to share funding information, failing to update the website, and extreme apathy. Regrettably, Animal Guardians finally had to sever ties with the program, resulting in its dissolution, after repeated efforts to overcome these and other issues failed. Many commitments to success were made, but only excuses for failure were executed.

Now there is renewed interest in a County Spay-Neuter Program. Let’s please, please, please support and promote the effort and follow through this time. Recognizing that animals who are never born can not overcrowd shelters or rescue groups, nor can they require the attention of Animal Control officers and expenditure of tax dollars, it is self-evident that prevention of their births is a critical factor in preventing overpopulation, saving lives, preventing suffering, and ultimately saving money. In the long run, it is far more expensive to admit, shelter, and destroy thousands of animals every year, than it would be to prevent their births in the first place. Failure to do so is shortsighted and inhumane.

Please check out attachment: Brevard County Spay and Neuter Program
Thank you.

Dennis Lee Peer, Vice President
Animal Guardians of Brevard
www.animalguardiansofbrevard.org

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO ADOPTION EVENTS AT OUR SHELTERS?

News of the mega-adoption event planned for next year is most welcome and I wish everyone involved, most of all the animals, great success. However, Brevard’s homeless animals cannot wait until then for adoption events to be scheduled.

Up until three years ago, when Animal Guardians was involved with SACC, special adoption events were held just about every month. A schedule of exact dates was determined at the beginning of every year and before every event, announcements were made and press releases put out. The procedure became routine. Refreshments were even offered. Each event had a seasonal theme and was “annual:”

February Have a Heart - Adopt a Shelter Pet"
March Happy St. Pet-trick's Day"
April Spring a Pet”
May Be Kind to Animals Week
June Adopt a Shelter Cat Month
July Petriotic Pets
August No More Homeless Animals Day
September Fall in Love Fur-Ever
October Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
November Happy Petsgiving
December Meowy Christmas and a Woofy New Year

The number of animals adopted varied from 10 up to 65 in a single day (see www.animalguardiansofbrevard.org/Calendar.htm for photos, statistics, and additional information). In addition to adoptions, people brought donations of food, linens, money, and more. Volunteers and staff worked very hard to prepare as many animals as possible for adoption and there was always a large number of cats and dogs available. Generally, very few animals were euthanized within a week of the event in anticipation of success.

Many of these events went on for years and the most recent ones were successfully held in partnership with other area shelters (SPCA, CBHS). Then the county decided to eliminate them, and now adoption events are few and far between. One reason cited for the paucity of adoption events is a lack of funds for advertising. However, past experience has proven that this is not a valid excuse. Previous events were well-advertised in a variety of sources including, but not limited to:

Florida Today
Hometown News
Pet Gazette
Several local radio stations
Local TV station listings on their community calendar
Brevard County TV
Flyers prepared and posted around the county in businesses, vet offices, etc. by volunteers
Emails shared with others by rescue groups

The total cost for all of these was $0: NOTHING! All it took was a little effort and willingness to prepare and disseminate the information. Today, with the popularity and effectiveness of social media like Facebook, getting the word out is easier than ever, and it still costs NOTHING.

Also, in the mid-2000’s, animals were brought to PetSmart resulting in great exposure for the shelter and its animals. Sometimes there were so many adoptions that additional animals had to be brought in. This excellent adoption venue was also eliminated for some flimsy excuse or another, and is just one more example of current policies which reflect a long history of the failure of shelter management to take advantage of every opportunity to save the lives of its homeless animals. It seems it is easier to just kill them.

PEOPLE IN BREVARD COUNTY ARE TIRED OF THE KILLING. WHY DON’T COUNTY OFFICIALS AND SHELTER MANAGEMENT FEEL THE SAME WAY? WE ARE TIRED OF EXCUSES, MISMANAGEMENT, AN UNWILLINGNESS TO GET GUIDANCE AND ACCEPT HELP, AND A LEVEL OF IGNORANCE, STUBBORNESS, AND POLITICS THAT HAS BECOME INTOLERABLE.

Shame of the county for using any excuses, including a “lack of funds”, to not do everything possible to get animals adopted. It is inexcusable. It is simply a matter of WILLINGNESS to make a schedule of events, plan them, get the word out (for free), get the animals ready (which should be happening anyway), and save some lives. It is time for the county to stop making excuses for why things can’t be done and start looking for ways to make them happen.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting to hear what happened to the county-run spay-neuter program that was implemented in 2011, but which they also failed to follow through on. Same problem - lots of excuses why things can’t be done but an unwillingness to find ways that they can…. Pathetic.

Dennis L. Peer
Working together we can make a difference
Education: The Key to Awareness
www.animalguardiansofbrevard.org

Dennis Peer's Question: WHERE DO DONATIONS TO BREVARD COUNTY SHELTERS REALLY GO?
His E-Mail to Brevard County Commissioners & Animal Services Director


To: Brevard County Commissioners and Brevard County Animals Services/Shelter Director

Years ago we (Animal Guardians) started our journey volunteering for the county animal shelters. While there were many problems then, at least we could meet with the director of BASE, the shelter managers, even the county commissioners and county manager, to try and implement change. We met regularly to discuss and institute new programs and address problems. Although we certainly met with some resistance and the need for significant changes remained, we also had a lot of success.

We asked a lot of questions and learned some very distressing things. One year we saw that $45,000 was donated and asked where that money would go. We were shocked to be told that, unless it was designated for a specific purpose (line item), it could go anywhere it was needed. Not anywhere in the shelter, not even anywhere in Animal Services, but anywhere and for anything in the county as it would be put into the county‘s general fund!

We discovered that tens of thousands of dollars are donated to the shelters every year by people who love animals and want to see them get the best care possible. Little do they know that their money doesn’t get spent on the animals or shelters! So, we asked how to assure that contributions meant for shelter animals would specifically benefit shelter animals. We were told by management and the county manager that this could only be done if a line item were set up for a specific cause, and the donation had to be specifically directed toward it.

We found it frustrating and a little deceptive that the donating public was not made aware that their donations were very likely not going to the animals. We also realized that the only immediate option was to work within that system and get line items set up, then inform donors and ask them to specify a program that benefited the animals. This limited system worked well as long as the person taking the donation made the effort to ask, but that ceased shortly after we no longer had a presence at the shelter.

Here are some programs funded by line items:

*Air purification system: This was paid for in full by donations. Unfortunately, the shelter failed to maintain the system.

*Heartworm Program for Dogs: Dr. Asher had a line item set up for heartworm treatment which saved hundreds of dogs. That program has been unfunded and forgotten.

*Industrial dishwasher: Dishes were being inadequately “cleaned” by hand, which was very time-consuming and completely ineffective for preventing disease transmission between animals. An industrial dishwasher should have been in use years before, but it required a line item to get it done.

*Spay and neuter program: This line item was started in 2011 and about a hundred spays and neuters were done with donated funds before it was apparently deemed unworthy of the effort or funds required to continue.

The shelters may be the most important source of information and education about the need for sterilization and the resources available. For those people who need it most, the shelter is often the first or only place they find out about the importance of spaying and neutering, where to get it done, and how to get financial aid if needed. We supplied the shelters with brochures listing low cost clinics and sources of financial assistance, which we also provided. Sometimes this allowed someone to keep their pet rather than relinquish him/her to the shelter, benefiting all. This information was also provided to people picking up lost pets who were not spayed or neutered. Shelters should ALWAYS offer information and assistance with spay/neuter if they want to decrease euthanasia. Why don’t ours???



This spay-neuter program was supported by the SPCA for northern Brevard, CBHS for central Brevard, and Aloha, Brevard Spay Neuter Clinic, and Palm Bay Animal Hospital for southern Brevard. Everybody worked together and I believe it was potentially one of the greatest opportunities in Brevard County to help reduce animal overpopulation and killing.

We keep hearing how there is never any money, and lack of funding was the excuse given for why this program was allowed to die, but $40,000 or $50,000 in donations could have supported it by sterilizing over 1000 animals each year. At one point we were told that the first $45,000 in donations (not designated for a specific line item) HAD to be turned over to the county general fund before being designated for shelter needs. Was this true or was it a lie?/ If true, WHY???

So, almost all shelter donations are turned over to the county general fund along with several hundred thousand budgeted dollars being returned. And, while I still have not gotten a formal answer to my questions about the status of this program, it is obvious that it no longer exists because the county simply doesn’t want it to, and wants to spend the money elsewhere. There are no valid excuses.

We are told there is no money for staff, fencing, advertising, computers, software upgrades, shelter upgrades, spay and neuter programs, education programs, training, cages for outside events, dog beds, information brochures, etc., etc., etc. The list is a mile long. Meanwhile, BASE returned over **$600,000 to the county in just the last two years. All this while they want to stop medicating sick but treatable animals and get rid of the isolation room where they are segregated while they recover (kudos to Dr. Asher for fighting to get the antibiotics needed to treat the rampant upper respiratory infections that plague the shelter).

It is an outrage that our county “leaders” have the audacity to basically require that donations from people who truly care about animals be given away for totally unrelated uses, Donors would be appalled that their generosity meant nothing and would never be seen by the intended beneficiaries. And it is even worse because everyone at BASE who accepts those donations knows they are being made for the animals, but no one respects the donors enough to inform them where their money really goes.

I am not suggesting that you not donate to your local county-run shelters. However, ask what programs your donation can go towards which will directly benefit the animals. Choose one and be sure to specify it on your check. Always get a receipt, especially if you give cash, and be sure it says exactly what animal or shelter program your donation is for. Simply saying “wherever it is needed” means it will go into the county general fund and the animals will reap no benefit.

You can donate food, but keep in mind that money for food is budgeted and they have to feed the animals no matter what happens. Unfortunately, they do not rotate the stock allowing some food to go bad and be wasted. That this occurs begs the question of whether the budget needs to be re-evaluated to prevent wasting taxpayers’ and donors’ money. Also, why isn’t there a bulk food purchasing process in place? There are deep discounts offered to shelters by many quality pet food manufacturers, and this would assure a steady supply.

These are my opinions and suggestions after thousands of hours volunteering at the shelter over 10 years. I helped start many programs there so I know they can work when everyone cooperates or, at least, does not stand in the way. However, money is always needed and ALL funds contributed for helping the animals should be spent on the animals.

As part of the bigger picture, we really need better leadership in our shelters and our community, who will set the tone and move us toward no kill. Our leaders need new ideas and a willingness to look at what is working elsewhere, and embrace all the help that is available locally and beyond. They need to get the facts, learn what works since what they’re doing now does not, and act. Years ago we (Animal Guardians) started our journey volunteering for the county animal shelters. While there were many problems then, at least we could meet with the director of BASE, the shelter managers, even the county commissioners and county manager, to try and implement change. We met regularly to discuss and institute new programs and address problems. Although we certainly met with some resistance and the need for significant changes remained, we also had a lot of success.

We asked a lot of questions and learned some very distressing things. One year we saw that $45,000 was donated and asked where that money would go. We were shocked to be told that, unless it was designated for a specific purpose (line item), it could go anywhere it was needed. Not anywhere in the shelter, not even anywhere in Animal Services, but anywhere and for anything in the county as it would be put into the county‘s general fund!

We discovered that tens of thousands of dollars are donated to the shelters every year by people who love animals and want to see them get the best care possible. Little do they know that their money doesn’t get spent on the animals or shelters! So, we asked how to assure that contributions meant for shelter animals would specifically benefit shelter animals. We were told by management and the county manager that this could only be done if a line item were set up for a specific cause, and the donation had to be specifically directed toward it.

We found it frustrating and a little deceptive that the donating public was not made aware that their donations were very likely not going to the animals. We also realized that the only immediate option was to work within that system and get line items set up, then inform donors and ask them to specify a program that benefited the animals. This limited system worked well as long as the person taking the donation made the effort to ask, but that ceased shortly after we no longer had a presence at the shelter.

Here are some programs funded by line items:

*Air purification system: This was paid for in full by donations. Unfortunately, the shelter failed to maintain the system.

*Heartworm Program for Dogs: Dr. Asher had a line item set up for heartworm treatment which saved hundreds of dogs. That program has been unfunded and forgotten.

*Industrial dishwasher: Dishes were being inadequately “cleaned” by hand, which was very time-consuming and completely ineffective for preventing disease transmission between animals. An industrial dishwasher should have been in use years before, but it required a line item to get it done.

*Spay and neuter program: This line item was started in 2011 and about a hundred spays and neuters were done with donated funds before it was apparently deemed unworthy of the effort or funds required to continue.

The shelters may be the most important source of information and education about the need for sterilization and the resources available. For those people who need it most, the shelter is often the first or only place they find out about the importance of spaying and neutering, where to get it done, and how to get financial aid if needed. We supplied the shelters with brochures listing low cost clinics and sources of financial assistance, which we also provided. Sometimes this allowed someone to keep their pet rather than relinquish him/her to the shelter, benefiting all. This information was also provided to people picking up lost pets who were not spayed or neutered. Shelters should ALWAYS offer information and assistance with spay/neuter if they want to decrease euthanasia. Why don’t ours???



This spay-neuter program was supported by the SPCA for northern Brevard, CBHS for central Brevard, and Aloha, Brevard Spay Neuter Clinic, and Palm Bay Animal Hospital for southern Brevard. Everybody worked together and I believe it was potentially one of the greatest opportunities in Brevard County to help reduce animal overpopulation and killing.

We keep hearing how there is never any money, and lack of funding was the excuse given for why this program was allowed to die, but $40,000 or $50,000 in donations could have supported it by sterilizing over 1000 animals each year. At one point we were told that the first $45,000 in donations (not designated for a specific line item) HAD to be turned over to the county general fund before being designated for shelter needs. Was this true or was it a lie?/ If true, WHY???

So, almost all shelter donations are turned over to the county general fund along with several hundred thousand budgeted dollars being returned. And, while I still have not gotten a formal answer to my questions about the status of this program, it is obvious that it no longer exists because the county simply doesn’t want it to, and wants to spend the money elsewhere. There are no valid excuses.

We are told there is no money for staff, fencing, advertising, computers, software upgrades, shelter upgrades, spay and neuter programs, education programs, training, cages for outside events, dog beds, information brochures, etc., etc., etc. The list is a mile long. Meanwhile, BASE returned over **$600,000 to the county in just the last two years. All this while they want to stop medicating sick but treatable animals and get rid of the isolation room where they are segregated while they recover (kudos to Dr. Asher for fighting to get the antibiotics needed to treat the rampant upper respiratory infections that plague the shelter).

It is an outrage that our county “leaders” have the audacity to basically require that donations from people who truly care about animals be given away for totally unrelated uses, Donors would be appalled that their generosity meant nothing and would never be seen by the intended beneficiaries. And it is even worse because everyone at BASE who accepts those donations knows they are being made for the animals, but no one respects the donors enough to inform them where their money really goes.

I am not suggesting that you not donate to your local county-run shelters. However, ask what programs your donation can go towards which will directly benefit the animals. Choose one and be sure to specify it on your check. Always get a receipt, especially if you give cash, and be sure it says exactly what animal or shelter program your donation is for. Simply saying “wherever it is needed” means it will go into the county general fund and the animals will reap no benefit.

You can donate food, but keep in mind that money for food is budgeted and they have to feed the animals no matter what happens. Unfortunately, they do not rotate the stock allowing some food to go bad and be wasted. That this occurs begs the question of whether the budget needs to be re-evaluated to prevent wasting taxpayers’ and donors’ money. Also, why isn’t there a bulk food purchasing process in place? There are deep discounts offered to shelters by many quality pet food manufacturers, and this would assure a steady supply.

These are my opinions and suggestions after thousands of hours volunteering at the shelter over 10 years. I helped start many programs there so I know they can work when everyone cooperates or, at least, does not stand in the way. However, money is always needed and ALL funds contributed for helping the animals should be spent on the animals.

As part of the bigger picture, we really need better leadership in our shelters and our community, who will set the tone and move us toward no kill. Our leaders need new ideas and a willingness to look at what is working elsewhere, and embrace all the help that is available locally and beyond. They need to get the facts, learn what works since what they’re doing now does not, and act.

We need real support and willingness to try something new from our county and city managers, commissioners, Animal Services management, on down through the ranks of staff and employees. We need a BASE director and shelter managers that have knowledge, compassion, and love for the animals, and are not afraid or unable to make the changes necessary to lead a successful journey toward no kill.

Right now effective, progressive direction at the top is completely lacking. Rather than moving forward, they are stifling progress. Meanwhile, so many advocates in the community are striving to bring about the needed changes only to be stymied by the same old, failed mindset and policies. Our animals have been waiting and dying for years, and it's about time we listen to their cries and do what ever it takes to stop the killing.

Meanwhile, thanks to Commissioner Robin Fisher for his fast reply with some information on what happened to adoption events and the spay-neuter program at our county shelters. I greatly appreciate it. Sadly, the shelter director doesn’t answer (my) emails or answer questions about her responsibilities. It’s a shame because my questions are about important, life and death, county-run services and it’s my right to have answers. What do you think?

Dennis L. Peer
Working together we can make a difference
Education: The Key to Awareness
www.animalguardiansofbrevard.org

**$600,000 -Dennis notes this amount was returned over a period of three years and not two


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10-20-13