Animal Shelter Advisory Committee submits first report

In its first annual report to the city, the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee detailed several changes taking place at the shelter.

At the Jefferson City Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday, Dr. Jim Crago, vice chairman of the advisory committee, gave members a general overview of the advisory group’s role and some of the major issues its dealt with in the past year.

The committee is required by ordinance to submit an annual report to the city outlining its business and accomplishments for the year, but the News Tribune reported in July that the committee had never filed any reports and failed to adhere to a requirement for holding quarterly meetings.

Crago said the committee is now trying to ensure meetings every quarter and members had simply forgotten about the requirement for annual reports.

“We forgot about that altogether,” Crago said.

Crago said the shelter has dealt with several issues in the past year, the largest of which was the controversial use of a gas chamber last summer. The gas chamber has been used for wildlife and feral cat euthanasia at the Jefferson City Animal Shelter since December 2008. Carbon dioxide is used to euthanize the animals in the homemade chamber, which utilizes a chest-freezer similar to one that could be found in one’s home.

Crago said the issue was “way blown out of proportion” and the chamber is an approved method of euthanasia for animals. Crago said the chamber is used for wild or feral animals that could pose a potential risk for staff when handled, making injections difficult.

“Is there better ways of doing things? Of course, there’s always better ways,” Crago said, adding that wild and feral animals are uncontrollable.

Crago said the issue did raise the question of why the city has been catching wild animals in the first place. Crago said he met with Jefferson City Police Chief Roger Schroeder to discuss the question and the city is no longer collecting many wild or feral animals. Because of that change, he said the gas chamber is rarely being used.

“We are not using the CO2 chamber much at all,” Crago said.

Dr. Corey McCann, the veterinarian at the shelter, said they used to use the chamber up to six times per week, sometimes per day, but now it’s used very rarely.

Other changes at the shelter in the past year included coming up with standard operating procedures for the shelter and putting them in writing, Crago said, as well as putting in place procedures for volunteer practices.

McCann noted the shelter adopted out about 1,020 animals in 2013 and had more than 17,000 visitors.

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