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Forum outlines progress on Animal Protective Services

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By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Local animal activists and Animal Protective Service personnel met on Wednesday to discuss policy changes, clear up confusion and generally work to improve service to city residents — especially the furry ones. 

Held at the Greenville Police Department, the public forum is part of a calculated reaction to a petition that activists presented the city last summer, demanding a list of policy changes to improve APS service. Holding a public forum was one of six requests. 

Greenville Police Chief Mark Hotlzman said he believes the city is moving steadily forward in bringing the community and department together to accomplish many goals. 

“There’s been a lot of need for this,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of progress over the last couple months with bringing the two groups closer in line with our goal, which is to keep animals healthy and safe, keep our community healthy and just run a professional organization to serve our community.”

The petition presented by Linda Mazer to the City Council listed five other requests besides holding the forum. She said she had been excited at the amount of progress she has seen in the city. 

A presentation given by the department on Wednesday went through each of the petition’s issues and explained the progress that has been made. 

One request was to open Greenville’s temporary animal holding facility at Helen’s Grooming to the public. Holtzman said the department already is accomplishing this, according to North Carolina law, but is working to increase access to more hours per day.

He said the department is planning to issue another Request for Proposal to attract other facilities that might be interested in serving as the holding facility. However, a RFP issued last year received zero responses. 

He said the city is looking at using volunteers to staff the facility for additional hours, to make sure people can get to their lost pets as quickly as possible. 

The department is working accomplish other one of the requests — ending the outdoor cat feeding and sterilization ban. The department has partnered with a local nonprofit, Pet Food Pantry of Eastern North Carolina, to conduct catch-neuter-release operations in west Greenville. The partnership is being used as a pilot program, which could be expanded to other groups in other parts of the city if successful. 

Holtzman said the department plans to include Animal Protective Services in its next strategic plan, fulfilling another of one of the petition’s requests. 

Another item on the list has been ticked off. Access to the Greenville APS database, the PetPoint matrix, has been granted by the department and made public on its website. The database include animal intake/outcomes, owner surrenders and strays, age categories of animals, categories that list reasons for euthanasia, live release rates and other relevant data.

According to this data, the department brought in 535 live animals in 2017. Of those animals, 386 were stray or lost animals.

Of those 535, 483 animals survived, with 89 being returned to an owner and 394 being transferred to a different agency such as the Pitt County Animal Shelter or a nonprofit. During the same year, five animals died while in the care of the department and 33 were euthanized. 

District 4 Councilman Rick Smiley said he believes animal issues have not been receiving the proper amount of attention for some time, and credits the determination of residents and city staff to bringing them to the forefront of discussion. 

“Sometimes issues like animal services and animal protections, they’re priority number four or five,” he said.

Smiley said unlike other priorities however, animal issues do not always move up on the list over time.

”Animal services don’t do that, they tend to get leap frogged, which is unfortunate,” he said. “I say that as a person that is allowing the leap frogging. I’ve been impressed that the chief is committed to this, Animal Services is committed to this and citizens have been committed to this.” 

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