Where Has All The Data Gone?

Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA
PO Box 1036, Bowie, MD 20718
(301) 262-6452 / www.PGFerals.org

Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA is the home of:
PG Adopt-A-Classroom     --     Compassion Watch TV
Holistic Health Care for Pets     --     No Kill Prince George's County, MD

November 15, 2011


Where has all the data gone?
Long time passing

Rodney C Taylor, Current Administrator,
Prince George's County Animal Management
If you see this guy, tell him he has to go!!!

Documented Failure

On August 1, Prince George's County Animal Management blew the minds of animal lovers when it posted the Monthly Report for June 2011, which showed an all time record high number of animals killed. Nine Hundred Seventy (970) animals had been killed, only 40 of which were actual euthanasias recommended by a veterinarian. Of all of the animals that were taken in alive and were adoptable, 72 percent were killed. An attempt by Rodney Taylor, currently the Administrator of Animal Management, to explain the reasons, simply documented his failures to provide effective programs, even after a dozen years in the $125,000 per year position.

A Ray of Hope

As a result of the hard work of Mr. Charles W. Wilson, then-Director of the Department of Environmental Resources, the number of adoptions had been up and the number of killings had been down during FY 2010. This gave hope that Prince George's County might follow the example of open admission municipal shelters in other jurisdictions that have been transformed into positive community assets, and are saving 90 percent or more of all animals presented to them.

Unrestrained Failure

Since the month of June is the last month in the fiscal year, the June report included monthly, but also yearly figures for FY 2011 which were very enlightening. Since the departure of Mr. Wilson at the end of his appointment, and the reappointment of Samuel Wynkoop as Director of DER, the trend has reversed to pre-FY 2010 levels. In stead of making progress in FY 2011, the number of adoptions was lower and the kill rate was higher than FY 2010.

Looking Closely at the Numbers

Animal sheltering is cyclical on an annual basis. The number of animals handled, intake, adoptions, etc. is always lower during the winter months and higher during the summer. If you look closely at the curve, however, you will notice that the summer consists of TWO peaks. One of the peaks seems to always occur in the month of June. July is not quite so high. Then the second peak occurs two or three months after the first, either in August or September. The other thing that you will notice is that the second peak is always higher than the first.

Numbers? What Numbers?

It is interesting to note that the Animal Management web site has not been updated with monthly reports since the July report was posted. It is now well into the month of November, and the August, September, and October reports have never appeared. Animal lovers are curious about what might be happening.

Alternatives to Transparency

Since either the August or September report is expected to be even more damning than the historic June report, one possibility is that, without the oversight of Mr. Wilson to force transparency, we may have seen the last monthly report. Any future information provided may have to be through a formal Maryland Public Information Act Request. This is a popular tactic for delaying the release of damaging information that the public has a legal right to have.

There are other options for management to obscure a bad performance record. One is to change the reporting method. The effect of this approach is to thwart any attempt to track a trend from before the change to after.

Another option, popular with high-kill pounds, is to simply skew the animals' evaluations. For example, if three dogs come into the Animal Services Facility, and the Animal Management (lack of) programs will only be capable of allowing one to get out alive, the other two are simply evaluated as "unadoptable" on intake. This subjective method can be extended to practically any animal that comes in.

It remains to be seen what approach will be taken.

A Last Chance

In an effort to give Rodney Taylor the benefit of the doubt, Mr. Wilson provided a briefing for Taylor and the Animal Management staff. Susanne Kogut, the Director of the Charlottesville/Albemarle County SPCA, which has the contract for the open admissions, municipal shelter for both the city and county, described how their facility had achieved a 90 percent save rate between 2005 and 2007, and has been maintaining it ever since. There are 22 jurisdictions in which similar success has been achieved and 8 more in progress. After the presentation, there was no change in outcomes at the Animal Services Facility.

Institutional Coverup

Since it is apparent that Rodney Taylor is not capable of innovation and can not implement change, once the positive influence of Mr. Wilson was gone, the failed approach of Rodney Taylor and Samuel Wynkoop could prevail. That is not the full extent of the failure, however, as it could not continue at the Division and Department level without the protection of the Office of the County Executive. During that very month of June when Rodney Taylor was accumulating a record high kill rate, Mr. Bradford Seamon, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of County Executive Rushern Baker said,

"Since meeting with Mr. Wynkoop and Mr. Taylor, I am very confident that their dedication and leadership will continue to meet the needs of the citizens and provide for the health and welfare of the animal population in Prince George's County."

"Their dedication and leadership" has led to the unnecessary killing of almost 7,000 animals during the past year. Rodney Taylor has been responsible for the killing of about 70,000 animals in the past decade. This is the outcome of their "dedication and leadership" that Prince George's County residents are paying for with their tax dollars, but is it what you want?

You Can Help

Candidate Rushern Baker, in June 2002, promised to "get the right people working at the shelter", and we need to let him know that, as County Executive, it is time to live up to his promise. It is obvious that Rodney Taylor must be fired or at least transferred out of Animal Management. Samuel Wynkoop apparently more interested in preserving long-time friendships than improving outcomes at the Animal Services Facility. He must be moved out of the way. Bradford Seamon must begin to manage based on performance rather than membership in the "good old boy" network.

We have over 800 signatures on our petition to ask Mr. Baker to "Get the right people on the bus." We would like to present him with a petition with 1,000 signatures on it. Will you please help us reach that goal? If you have not signed the petition,please do so. If you have already signed the petition, send an email message, make a phone call, or write a letter to the addresses below. Please forward this message to those that you know would prefer to see more animals saved, rather than killed at the Prince George's County Animal Services Facility.

While a candidate,
Mr. Baker promised,

that he would
"get the right people
working in the shelter."

Click here to tell Mr. Baker that ...

It's time to "Get the right people on the bus."

Please sign the petition, and then please
follow up with a letter or a phone call
to ...

Rushern L. Baker III, County Executive
County Administration Building, Suite 5032
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-3070

(301) 952-4131

County Executive Baker and his deputy can also be reached as follows:

Rushern L. Baker III, County Executive
Phone: (301) 952-4131
e-mail: CountyExecutive@co.pg.md.us

Bradford Seamon, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer
Phone: (301) 952-4547
e-mail: BLSeamon@co.pg.md.us

County Administration Building, Suite 5032
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-3070


Timothy W. Saffell, the author of this column, is President of Prince George's Feral Friends, SPCA, PO Box 1036, Bowie, MD 20718 (301-262-6452, www.PGFerals.org)
He is also the producer of Compassion Watch TV, available on the internet at www.CompassionWatch.org .

P.S. Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization supported by donations from individuals. Donations are tax-deductible.

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