News Release - Statement by Police Chief James Sheppard on Evaluation Report of Rochester Animal Services

Rochester Police Department

News Release

Thursday April 4, 2013
For Immediate Release

Today I am releasing the final evaluation report on the operations of the City’s Rochester Animal Services (RAS), which is a section of the Rochester Police Department (RPD). Conducted by LifeLine Animal Project of Atlanta, GA, the report provides impartial and comprehensive recommendations for the programs and services of RAS and gauges the operation against industry best practices. LifeLine evaluated RAS from December 2012 to February 2013.

The final report is thorough and contains many recommendations that will help improve and streamline operations. As a whole, I am pleased with the results, knowing that RAS provides valuable services to our community from intake to quality care for more than 6,500 animals annually.

The report’s overall assessment concludes that many good things are taking place at RAS and that staff members are well-trained, knowledgeable and possess good customer service skills. There are also suggestions for improvement that merit serious consideration, some that allow for immediate implementation that is already underway. For example, we had already been evaluating the shelter’s HVAC system prior to this report, but will also evaluate a building renovation/expansion through the City’s Capital Improvement Program.

The assessment covered RAS procedures for cleaning and disinfecting, care and feeding of animals, animal intakes, adoptions, reclaims, owner surrenders, field operations and euthanasia. The report found RAS management to be knowledgeable and professional and RAS employees to be skilled
and compassionate. It complimented the comprehensive shelter medicine program headed by the City’s full-time veterinarian.

The report also commended RAS for its active volunteer program and for recently obtaining a large grant to provide spay/neuter services to low-income pet owners. According to the report, the RAS standard operating procedures demonstrated a vast knowledge of animal sheltering and field
operations and covered all major areas of operation. It also stated that field operations are well-organized and well-managed.

The mission of RAS is to improve safety and quality of life for residents and their pets, promote responsible pet ownership, regulate companion animal populations, reunite owners with missing pets and place animals in new homes. Unfortunately, there are many more stray and unwanted animals in our community than our space and resources can accommodate.

The report also includes some observations and recommendations with which we disagree. For instance, the evaluator suggests that RAS feeding levels are below standards. The feeding levels at RAS are determined by the City’s veterinarian, considering industry standard feeding protocols, each
animal’s age and condition, and supplemental feeding provided by employees and volunteers in the form of treats and enrichment.

Other identified areas of concern—including the need for a sick animal isolation area and increased instances of euthanasia due to the spay-neuter program—can be attributed to the lack of available space at the shelter.
In closing, the report has made us consider that perhaps we are trying to do too much; trying to be all things to all people. This is something that we need to think seriously about and we will explore the elimination of some services that may be detracting from our core mission, which is to provide
control and regulation of companion animals. Those services might include door-to-door pick up of surrendered pets, nuisance wildlife removal and owner-requested euthanasia. We also expect to work with the City Law Department to enable RAS to focus more on its core functions and will seek to increase dog license compliance and revenues to help fund animal control operations.


News Media: For more information, contact the Director of Rochester Animal Services, Mr. Chris Fitzgerald at 428-6898.