In August of 2011, a group of animal lovers from the Genesee County region held an informal meeting to share concerns and ideas to help improve the conditions and adoption rate at Genesee County Animal Control. By the end of the first meeting, it was realized this would be no quick or easy task and GRACE was born.
To date, we have developed our by-laws, mission statement, vision statement and outlined a plan to help assist GCAC achieve goals necessary to start the evolution from a high kill shelter to a no kill shelter.
The week of Sept 12th, 2011 was our official first contact with County Commissioners and the GCAC Director. The letter below, accompanied by attachments not included here, was emailed to all and was also hand delivered to the Commissioners' office and sent through the USPS to Director Lazar.
On Sept 14th, 2011, GRACE member Richard Angelo spoke at the County Commissioners' meeting, formally introducing GRACE and asking for confirmation that the hand delivered letters had been received. Mr. Angelo's presence was well received and afterwards he was approached briefly for more information.
Letter to the Genesee Co Commissioners and Director of Animal Control
Via Hand Delivery Via First Class Mail
Commissioners of Genesee County Ms. Stepheni Lazar, Animal Control Director
1101 Beach Street, Room 312 G-4351 West Pasadena Avenue
Flint, Michigan 48502 Flushing, Michigan 48504
RE: Genesee County Animal Control
Dear Commissioners and Director Lazar:
The purpose of this correspondence is two-fold. First, we would like to introduce ourselves as a new organization comprised of county residents, several of whom also own businesses in Genesee County, volunteers at Genesee County Animal Control and all of whom are involved in some form of what you may term “animal rescue”. Each and every member of our organization has been involved in some dealing with Genesee County Animal Control (“GCAC”) in the past. As you are all aware, the reputation of the GCAC has been less than stellar over the past decade, and especially so in the last five years. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made in the past to deal with the shortcomings of GCAC, which brings us to the second purpose of this letter.
Our group would like to be involved in assisting the County, Director Lazar and the staff at GCAC to make GCAC a facility that can be a source of pride for the county and its residents; a place where residents will feel welcome and want to visit. We are fully aware of the budget constraints being placed on the various county departments and we also realize that these constraints may have played a part in the current conditions at GCAC.
There is precedent in this state where governmental agencies and citizen groups have worked together to improve conditions for county facilities, policies and procedures. Montcalm, Kent, Ionia, Jackson, and Ingham counties are all examples where county officials and citizen groups worked together to improve how various governmental agencies functioned, including animal control. This type of public/private cooperation is a major part of our goal in forming this group. We plan to regularly attend the commissioners’ meetings in the coming months to bring to light some of the deficiencies currently present in GCAC facilities, policies and procedures, and to address how these deficiencies can be productively resolved, as well as to offer our assistance in resolving the issues.
We are prepared to provide examples of the types of deficiencies and issues which are common-place at GCAC, and attached to this letter we have provided three separate examples of the types of problems that we would like to eliminate. The first attachment is a Work Order Report from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development which oversees all licensed animal control and shelters in Michigan. The report is dated July 12, 2011 and addresses Complaints that GCAC was not following Michigan statutes in providing the proper care for the animals entrusted to it. While the report is quite lengthy, it does identify several deficiencies in the care provided to the animals at GCAC, and it identifies at least one instance where the shelter had violated Michigan statute in the care it provided to the animals.
The second attachment is a collection of MDARD shelter reports for Genesee County, some surrounding counties and some similarly situated economically and population-wise to Genesee County. As you can see from the reports, GCAC has an abysmal track record as far as euthanizing animals that come into the shelter. Simply stated, the statistics portrayed in this report are inexcusable and an embarrassment to all Genesee County residents.
The third attachment is a July 27, 2011 article from the Flint Journal which details a story regarding a child which was bitten by a stray “pit bull” in Flint. While I am sure you are well aware of this story, this incident evidences several areas of potential malfeasance on the part of GCAC and its staff.
These are just a few examples of some of the issues that have arisen in the last calendar year at GCAC.
Please know that our goal in reaching out to you collectively in this way is not an attempt to criticize or to cause problems for GCAC or its staff. Our goal is to assist in making GCAC a source of pride for the community. This goal can be achieved at little or no additional cost to the county if we simply work together toward that goal. There are several solutions that can be implemented immediately without cost to the county in any way.
We would request that you take some time to absorb the information provided in this letter and the supporting documentation. Once you have had ample opportunity to review this information, we request that you, either individually or collectively, meet with our group to review some of the potential minimal cost solutions which will make GCAC a better place for our community immediately. We will be in contact with each of you to schedule a mutually convenient time for the meeting.
We appreciate you taking the time to review this information and look forward to discussing solutions for the problems at GCAC.