Conroe, March 28 – Montgomery County Animal Shelter (MCAS) Director Aaron Johnson received “The Golden Hammer Award” at the Tuesday, March 27, 2018, meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court for “hammering the taxpayers.” Sadly, the issue extended to hammering – figuratively but in the saddest of manners – many of the homeless animals inside of MCAS.
Lame duck Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal put on the agenda Johnson’s annual performance review but Doyal’s golf schedule prevents him from focusing on County business. Therefore, neither Doyal nor his staff ever informed Johnson that Johnson would receive an annual performance review. Johnson did not appear in the Commissioners Court for the March 27 meeting, because he didn’t even know he was on the agenda.
There is a very serious situation at MCAS. “The Golden Hammer Award” addressed both that situation, Johnson’s issues, and the concern that the Commissioners Court shouldn’t be reviewing Johnson at all. The entire statement provided to the Commissioners Court along with “The Golden Hammer Award” follows:
“It is totally inappropriate for Judge Doyal or the Commissioners Court (other than Commissioner Clark) to participate in the evaluation of Animal Shelter Director Aaron Johnson.
“There are two problems with that action by the Commissioners Court. First, the voters have rejected Judge Doyal’s approach.
“Second, the members of the Commissioners Court are unqualified to perform this evaluation. You’re not experts in animal shelter management. You’re not familiar with the daily operations or the strategic issues that are of concern. You have appointed some genuine experts, however, to your Animal Shelter Advisory Board, which includes Commissioner Clark. It is unfathomable that you would perform an evaluation without detailed consultation with the Advisory Board first. Actually, it’s more appropriate for that Board to conduct the evaluation and report back to you.
“Briefly, I want to switch gears and talk about Director Johnson.
[At this point, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal rudely interrupted the presentation. Doyal has terrible manners and treats citizens in the Commissioners Court like a chain gang of convicts working to bust rocks. In response, the presenter made the following remarks and then continued:]
“Judge Doyal, your interruption is totally inappropriate and out of order. I hope you will not impose a prior restraint on my free speech as you did on Mr. Matthews [another citizen who tried to make a citizen comment, but Doyal interrupted and wouldn’t allow him to finish his remarks about serious flooding and drainage issues in his neighborhood.]
“Mr. Johnson receives today’s Golden Hammer Award. There are many aspects of his job that he’s doing well.
“But there are two important areas where Johnson has fallen short for the animals as well as the citizens of this community. First, Aaron Johnson has allowed the population of the Animal Shelter to skyrocket, because, like other shelters in the Gulf Coast area, the number of dogs has spiked up probably as an aftermath of Harvey. That spike occurred about three months before the normal puppy season.
“Where Johnson must do a lot better is in moving dogs out of the shelter through the front door through adoptions and fosters. Under Johnson, marketing of adoptions declined dramatically.
“Johnson claims he needs a budget for advertising. That’s ridiculous. He needs to go out into the community of Montgomery County and market animal shelter adoptions himself. There shouldn’t be one civic organization that doesn’t hear a sales pitch from Johnson.
“Adoptions are free at the shelter right now, but the mere advertising on Facebook doesn’t work. Johnson has turned down some amazing promotional ideas, including Papa John’s Pizza’s giving 3,000 free pizza certificates, one for each family that adopts an animal at the shelter.
“Could you imagine the fun a family could have if they go to adopt their family pet, get a free pizza, and drive home to watch a game on TV?
“Johnson is relying on transporting dogs elsewhere but it’s not working to move enough dogs out of the shelter. For that reason, the number of euthanasias – to make space for other dogs – has skyrocketed. This past Saturday, the MCAS vet spent most of the day euthanizing animals that weren’t sick.
“The spike in population has also caused disease incidence to skyrocket in the shelter.
“Finally, the volunteer retention rate at MCAS is less than 5%, which is terrible.
“These problems are costing the taxpayers a fortune in shelter operating costs and they’re costing innocent animals their lives.”