Conroe, February 1 – The Montgomery County Animal Shelter (MCAS), under the direction of new Director Charles Jackson who has been in the position only 51 days, is making great strides forward to become an animal-friendly and -caring facility, while welcoming the public, volunteers, fosters, rescue groups, and others whom MCAS had chased away during the horrific reign of Director Todd “Boss” Hayden and County Commissioner Jim Clark (Precinct 4). Walking into the Shelter in its present condition is surreal. Volunteers have returned. The animal cages are clean. There are many empty cages because Jackson, Assistant Director Mark Wysocki, and their staff are working vociferously to move animals into permanent homes.
The shelter’s smell is considerably less awful than it was under the Hayden-Clark era, which some have dubbed the CCE, standing for Cruel Clark-Hayden Era. Commissioner Clark’s goals seemed to be in the right place but he suffered from “groupthink syndrome” in refusing to seek any outside counsel or advice on how actually to operate the Shelter.
2017 Pet Rescue Conference
Jackson, who declared that he seeks to bring the great customer-centric service that citizens might observe at Chick-Fil-A restaurants to the Shelter, will be the Keynote Speaker at a 2017 Pet Rescue Conference, which United Pet Rescuers of Montgomery County has organized and which Lone Star College – Montgomery, Texas Litter Control, Maverick Pets Alive!, and Operation Pets Alive! are sponsoring. The Conference will be on Friday, February 3, and Saturday, February 4, 2017, at Lone Star College – Montgomery, 3200 College Park Drive, Conroe, Texas. Jackson will deliver his Keynote Address at 6 p.m., Friday, evening. Other speakers on the program include Sargent Karl Bailey of the City of Seagoville Animal Services, Tawny Hammond who serves as Chief of Austin Animal Center Services, Alice Burton of Alley Cat Allies, and Brent Toellner of Best Friends Animal Society.
The Conference topics on Friday will include an “Ask a Vet” session, basics of CPR and first aid for pets, the trap neuter program of Community Cats, and growing a foster network. The Saturday topics will include a legislative update, marketing and social media for fundraising, grant writing, disease control for animal shelters and rescues, and various success stories from shelters. Natalie Saikowki Goertz, a long time dog foster and Shelter volunteer, as well as the Executive Vice President of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, urged community residents to “take part in this wonderful opportunity.”
Inside the Shelter Report
Jackson provided an exclusive report to The Golden Hammer on Tuesday evening. He explained that the Shelter is seeking fosters, rescues, and adopters for all of the animals in the Blue Room and that the Shelter has $0 adoption fees for any dog in the Blue Room between now and February 6, 2017. Jackson also noted that the Shelter’s new HVAC system is undergoing installation, so the Shelter staff hopes to empty the Blue Room by February 6 at the latest (while the Blue Room animals could return from foster care on February 13).
Behavioral Enrichment, Fundraising, and Long-Term Goals
Jackson, Wysocki, and behavioral enrichment expert Robbie Benson are working to create a permanent behavioral enrichment program for the animal shelter animals and to train volunteers, staff, fosters, and rescues in those methods. Benson moved to the Montgomery County community during 2016 and has become a major resource both for her knowledge of animal shelter operations and for her ability to establish long-term programs to raise private donations to support the Shelter with the potential goal of eventually saving taxpayers the entire Shelter budget, now almost completely from County tax dollars. The idea would include empowering private rescues, fosters, and volunteers to manage and operate the Shelter under the strong leadership of Jackson and Wysocki.
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, local activists Laurie Elliott, Robbie Benson, and Bill O’Sullivan, and others were instrumental in turning the Shelter around under the direction of Jackson in mid-December 2016.