Last night’s Board of Selectman’s meeting brought out another contingent of animal advocates to hear the final version of the town’s animal welfare policy. Several residents chose to address the BoS regarding the plan to replace the word “trainer” with “animal behaviorist.” Resident Leyla Nichols, Director of the Dog Program for The Animal Center, questioned the change stating that she has used the same “trainer” for many years and has seen amazing results where other trainers failed to succeed.
Other residents were concerned with the fee for the behaviorist. LLodra stated that all fees would be paid by the town.
First Selectman Llodra also explained that the term was to be used with a small “b” not capital “B” and was chosen to indicate a higher level of expertise than the word “trainer” would indicate.
It should be noted that there was confusion as to what role the “behaviorist “would play. With regard to the animal welfare policy, the subject of the meeting, the behaviorist would be that individual, as noted in the policy, who is part of a committee to determine whether euthanasia is the appropriate choice for a behaviorally non-sustainable animal. The change from trainer to behaviorist does not influence the choice of an individual who may ultimately work with the dogs housed at the facility.
In addition the inclusion of a five person advisory board to monitor and develop practices and procedures at the new shelter caused some residents to question the makeup and decision-making power of such a Board. LLodra pointed out that this Board would not have any decision- making power but would serve only as an advisory board to the MACO and ACO.
Once again, Selectman Will Rodgers stated that the policy was put in place to formalize the existing no-kill policy at the Pound and that it was not a “secret plan” to undermine the existing no-kill policy.
The Board of Selectmen then voted unanimously to adopt the policy as written. See below.
With regard to another agenda item , the Tick Borne Disease Action Committee – “next steps,” First Selectman LLodra repeated that DEEP would be presenting their proposed deer management “survey” plan to the town on May 21.
LLodra also pointed out that Danbury Hospital has instituted the first “Lyme Disease Registry” in the country to monitor the incidence of Lyme Disease.
She also mentioned that a Meadows Seminar would take place at the Muni Center on Saturday March 24 with Dan Holmes as the speaker . The seminar would also include information about barberry’s “big” role in mouse-tick cycle. She informed the audience that fliers about barberry and its removal were on the town website.
POLICY AND PROCEDURE
WELFARE POLICY FOR IMPOUNDED ANIMALS
The Newtown Animal Control Facility is a place of safety for potentially adoptable animals. This policy is intended to provide support for the continuation of the Town’s long-standing ‘no-kill’ practice. The policy herein will serve as a guideline for all personnel when considering the well-being and fate of animals impounded at the Newtown Animal Control Facility. Town government remains committed to a no-kill philosophy and there is nothing in this policy that should be construed as advocating the euthanizing of animals impounded at our control facility.
It is the belief of the Newtown community, supported by town government and the animal control program of the Town of Newtown that euthanizing any animal impounded in the Newtown Animal Control Facility should be avoided unless circumstances dictate euthanasia is the only reasonable course to pursue. Euthanasia will not be considered as a control for over-population at the Newtown Animal Control Facility.
Newtown Animal Control personnel have the responsibility to the Town of Newtown to proceed with practices that will limit the danger and threat to the human and animal populations.
A. Medically Non-Sustainable- In the case of a diseased or injured animal for which no restorative action is reasonably available, a licensed veterinarian will make the recommendation to euthanize to the MACO who in turn will consult with an ACO. Only when those persons mutually agree on the euthanizing action, may the veterinarian proceed with a euthanasia procedure.
Euthanasia shall not be considered for any animal which is relatively healthy and which can be reasonably accommodated at the Animal Control Facility. Every effort must be put forth to locate appropriate homes for all animals housed at the Facility. These efforts must be fully documented and become part of each animal’s case file.
B. Behaviorally Non-Sustainable- The euthanizing of any animal for aggressive behavior that has led to bodily harm to humans or other animals cannot occur unless the following conditions are met and documented in the case file of the animal:
1. Has every possible and reasonable effort been implemented to locate the owner of the animal in question?
2. Has every possible and reasonable effort been undertaken to find an appropriate home for the animal?
3. Is there a rescue shelter or a rescue group available to take custody of the animal?
4. Are there arrangements that can be made to temporarily house the animal in an alternate location?
5. Has the animal been professionally evaluated by an independent animal behavorist to determine the suitability for a behavior modification program? If yes to the above question- has a suitable program been implemented without success?
6. Has a licensed veterinarian tested the animal for known health disorders associated with aggressive behavior? If yes to the above question, has the animal undergone all available treatment?
A licensed veterinarian may proceed with a euthanasia procedure only after the MACO*, ACO, licensed veterinarian*, animal behaviorist*, Chief of Police or his/her designee, and the First Selectman or his/her designee have carefully and thoroughly reviewed the case file, and agree that euthanasia is the only appropriate course of action for that behaviorally non-sustainable animal.
The BoS will appoint an Advisory Board to work with the Municipal Animal Control Officer and the Assistant Control Officer to support the Animal Control Facility policies and procedures and to assist in program development. Membership on the five- member Advisory Board will be open to Newtown residents and voters.
· A checklist with signatures and comments for items 1-6 above is maintained with the file of each animal euthanized under this behaviorally non-sustainable category.
MACO – Municipal Animal Control Officer
ACO – Animal Control Officer
*For purposes of this policy: a) MACO is understood to be a municipal employee, not a member of the Town’s police force; and b) the preferred veterinarian and animal behaviorist involved in the treatment and decision-making will have had experience with impounded/shelter animals.
Edited on March 16 for March 19, 2012, BoS discussion and action.