City Council Made Aware of Facts and Solutions

Letter sheds light on dire situation at DAHS

July 5, 2020

Dear Danville City Council Member:

By now you should be well aware of the recent surge in concern among Danville area community members and beyond regarding the high euthanasia rates at the Danville Area Humane Society (DAHS). Our hope is that the information provided here will re-enlighten you to the issues, raise your own concerns and move you to take much-needed action to bring DAHS up to par with the vast majority of animal shelters in Virginia.

In June of this year a billboard was erected on Rt. 29 and a website launched (www.danvilleshelterwatch.com) stating a startling fact - Since 2005, the Danville Area Humane Society (DAHS) has been in the top five highest euthanizing shelters in Virginia, taking the lives of a staggering 53,798 cats and dogs and counting. Under the current long-standing leadership, DAHS remains one of the worst-performing shelters in all of Virginia. Additionally, a Change.org petition launched on June 25th has quickly collected more than 2,400 signatures in under a week demanding change at the DAHS, garnering attention from within Danville and far beyond.

We know that you are aware of the statistical data that has brought such alarm and grief to the community, as it was sent to you by email in 2019 by a long-time rescue partner of DAHS. DAHS has fallen down on this mission for years and the community will no longer tolerate it. As a City Council member, you have an obligation to the voters and taxpayers whose dollars you allocate to support the mission of DAHS, and to the public whose animals, for various reasons, enter the shelter.

It is time that the Danville City Council demand change at DAHS. Animal lovers, animal welfare organizations, businesses and city governments from across the country are now aware that Danville has a shelter that is choosing to kill an unacceptable number of animals and the City Council is complicit in this action.

Ms. Dean has continued to rebuff offers from area shelters and rescues to enhance partnerships to improve DAHS’ live outcome for animals at no additional cost. She instead suggests that DAHS is an anomaly among all other shelters and simply has no choice but to kill so many of the animals she takes in. We believe strongly that this is the misinformation she regularly shares with the City Council as well as her own Board members, two of whom recently resigned after some fact checking and realizing that their single-source of information (Ms. Dean) was in fact not providing truthful information.

Fact: Being an open admission shelter does NOT prevent one from embracing successful and proven programs, including foster programs, managed intake, and robust transfers. The comparative data provided in this document illustrates that DAHS is choosing to kill so many animals when others are choosing to save them. Look at the dozens and dozens of other open admission shelters where intake is higher, transfers are higher and euthanasia is lower. DAHS is choosing not to emulate their programs and their successes. The data cannot be disputed. DAHS is choosing to kill when other shelters are choosing to save.
Fact: Ms. Dean consistently puts out false narratives to the community (and the Board) about managed intake. There is no evidence whatsoever that managed intake leads to more animals being abandoned in the community and she has not been able to provide any such statistics when pressed. In fact, shelters across the country that have implemented managed intake have done so with great success and not only saved lives but greatly increased their community support. And there is data to prove that this practice in public shelters works. Read the page at www.DanvilleShelterWatch.com to learn about what managed intake is and is not.
Fact: Ms. Dean has consistently villainized the nearby Pittsylvania Pet Center (PPC) by stating that DAHS is forced to take in animals “turned away” from PPC and that the PPC requires an animal surrender fee. The PPC has offered numerous times to Ms. Dean that any animal arriving at DAHS from Pittsylvania County will be accepted through transfer with an animal custody report by PPC and that simultaneously, the PPC welcomes any animals from Danville City. Additionally, it is clearly stated on the PPC website that while donations are welcomed, no animal will be turned away if an owner cannot make a donation toward their animal’s ongoing care. PPC statistics also indicate that the number of animals from Danville entering the PPC are similar to the number of animals from Pittsylvania entering DAHS, thus neutralizing any reason that Ms. Dean should use blaming the PPC for the high euthanasia numbers. Pittsylvania County, and the Pittsylvania Pet center has made it clear to Ms. Dean that she is under no obligation to receive county animals and she should redirect them to PPC.
Fact: Ms. Dean continues to claim that DAHS is the only area shelter that offers euthanasia assistance to the public if the owner cannot afford to go to a veterinary clinic. This is in fact false, however PPC encourages owners to have this done in a veterinary clinic whenever possible for the pet’s sake, where the owner can remain with the pet. In contrast Ms. Dean encourages people to utilize DAHS for euthanasia services.
We ask that the Danville City Council immediately take up this issue and take the following steps:

Immediately implement life-saving performance measures into the contract with DAHS that stipulates a live release rate of no less than 90% by 2022 and restrictions on transferring Danville animals to PETA and other shelters whose live release consistently fall under 90%.

Demand a leadership change at DAHS if the City is to continue its partnership/contract. Ms. Dean has proven for too many years that she has no interest in making her shelter a model organization for life-saving. She has repeatedly been offered opportunities to save more lives at no cost to her organization or to the City of Danville and she refuses. Leadership changes in other Virginia animal shelters have been tremendously successful, turning embarrassing and dismal shelters into shining examples of successful shelters with deep community support.

Issue an RFP for other interested organizations to take over the operations of the Danville city animal shelter.

As an elected City Council member, we ask that you take the time to carefully read through the data provided on the www.DanvilleShelterWatch.com page. Visit the VA Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services site to view for yourself the self-reported DAHS data (https://arr.va-vdacs.com/Reports06) and see how it so poorly compares to all other shelters in Virginia.

Is a City-funded organization so accepting of low-performing outcomes really one that reflects the values and principles of the City of Danville?

Do you really want Danville City to be known for its abhorrent animal shelter and tax payer waste?

Do you want to remain complicit in your support for this shelter when you have the facts and data?

It’s time that you stop relying on information solely from Ms. Dean and do your job. The facts and data speak for themselves.

It’s time for change. We ask that you do your part.
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