Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Phoenix Shelter Not Providing Mandated Animal Care

 

It is downright heartbreaking to find out your local animal humane shelter is not providing the care mandated for the animals under their control. It is even more heartwrenching to learn the shelter management refuses volunteer help. Like walking dogs regularly. Employees, volunteers, and the community have repeatedly observed incompetence and lack of transparency from the Maricopa County, AZ, Animal Care and Control (MCACC).

My wife has worked with animals for years in the Tellington T-Touch program, retiring only a couple of years ago. She is still very sympathetic toward animal welfare; as a matter of fact it was she who thought of and recommended that I do this post. I have helped out over the years and twice have witnessed on my own the politics of management in animal rescues. It is disgusting when you observe an ego for power replace the daily care for their animals.

Lorena Bader has started a petition aimed at Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Jack Sellers and 7 other decision makers. They have 22,156 signatures so far and are striving for 25,000. You can sign the petition by going here. The petition is a no-confidence plea in the ability of the elected Maricopa County Board of Supervisors...

Jack Sellers, Thomas Galvin, Bill Gates, Clint Hickman, and Steve Gallardo, appointed Maricopa County Manager, Joy Rich, Maricopa County Assistant Manager, Valerie Beckett, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC) Director, Michael Mendel, and MCACC Deputy Director, Crystal Enojos to run MCACC effectively and to provide proper medical and behavioral care for the animals in their charge.
The petition states residents' "efforts have largely been ignored or met with outright


disdain and obfuscation by MCACC leadership and the BOS (Board of Supervisors)." Examples include...
"The BOS refuses to communicate with concerned citizens by ignoring telephone calls and emails and by refusing to meet with individuals or a group. The BOS refuses to place MCACC concerns on its formal meeting agenda. Citizen recourse is limited to speaking (2 minute limit) during public comments of board meetings, expressing concerns on social media and going to the media. Even recommendations from a 2015 Task Force the BOS itself commissioned have been largely ignored. Repeated requests to meet with MCACC leadership and pleas for responsible course correction have been met with silence."

You can see the Task Force Final Report here

A classic example of the total problem is an accusation, "Michael Mendel Cancels Public Dog Walks to Spite Four Paws and Friends." Lorena Bader claims...
"Dogs sit in their kennels for up to a week without getting out for a walk or yard time. MCACC volunteers only filled 17% of the available shifts in August. The shelter desperately needs help to meet the needs of the animals in their care."

Bader exclaims the public dog walks were held weekly and could get 100 dogs out for a 30 minute walk in about 3 hours. However, Michael Mendel made the rash decision to cancel the Four Paws and Friends Mutt Strut. Bader says Mendel did it to spite Four Paws and Friends. Bader adds...

"I am personally so disappointed that the management would make the dogs suffer just to retaliate against me and my non-profit."
Protest takes place at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control...


And a tragedy did occur at MCACC that was preventable. In June of this year, a veterinarian employed at MCACC for 9 years was mauled by a dog who was exhibiting signs of extreme kennel deterioration. The dog Kronk's condition was due to neglect at the shelter and when brought to the deputy director's office for examination but was not leashed, a ridiculous decision knowing Kronk's status.

The dog attacked the vet and was pulled off by Michael Mendel, who was also bitten. This was Michael Mendel’s second bite in his short tenure as director from a dog showing serious, documented signs of deterioration. An issue that had existed for some time but apparently ignored by management. Lorena Bader asserts...

"this would look like an unprovoked attack however there were clear indications that Kronk was mentally struggling and should never have been placed in this situation. Instead of looking at management’s responsibility in this tragedy, they immediately banned any dogs from being in offices and started labeling more dogs as deteriorating and placing them on the euthanization list."

In this particular case Kronk was euthanized, in my opinion an inhumane act by this supposedly humane shelter. Bader says controversy has plagued MCACC for years and lists the following complaints...

-Basic medical needs of the animals are not met resulting in a year-long distemper outbreak, botched surgeries, and an excessive number of dogs becoming sick in the shelter or actually dying in their kennels.
-Basic behavioral needs of the animals are not met resulting in dogs not being assessed with other dogs, dogs only getting out of their kennels for exercise approximately 20 minutes per week and some dogs not getting out for weeks, staff lacking skills and training to handle fearful dogs or any with behavioral needs. High quality, in-kennel enrichment is sporadic and not funded by MCACC.
-Frequent firing of volunteers and silencing of those who speak up about inhumane conditions.
-Putting up roadblocks for community members, non-profits, and rescues willing to help.
-Toxic work environment that results in a high turnover and hiring practices that indicate nepotism and favoritism.
-Failure to be transparent and excessive efforts to find information leaks, including obstruction and delay of public record requests.
-Inability to identify all stakeholders and refusal to allow stakeholders any voice in decision-making that directly affects them.

Apparently this whole charade is no secret...

"Employees, volunteers, and the community have repeatedly observed incompetence and lack of transparency from MCACC. Those who speak up are faced with bullying, discrimination, and retaliation. Those who are incompetent at their jobs remain employed. Those who put ego, power, and control above saving lives are in charge."

Yet, this is the result...

"Mismanagement, nepotism, and unprofessionalism continues at the highest level. The most qualified are not hired to the top positions. Those who are true animal advocates and move the shelter forward are either forced out or fired. Management monitors communication by both employees and volunteers and threatens them if they speak publicly."

It is beyond belief that...

"In the past 3 months, under the direction of Michael Mendel, the pattern of poor decision-making continues, bullying and intimidation tactics have increased, employee and volunteer morale has decreased, and effective communication and transparency are at an all time low."

You can see a collection of Michael Mendel's questionable decisions here. The petition makes its demands but only time will tell if changes will be made at MCACC's top management. You can do your part by signing the petition and letting the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors know how you feel about this untenable situation. 

The question I still have...is this happening all over the country?

 








Peace Through Democracy

  For those who don't want peace, there should be a trap door to oblivion...