by Ray Downs
The race for county executive is getting ugly as candidate Steve Stenger is accusing Charlie Dooley of ignoring the needs of the animal shelter, resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent dogs and cats.
The Post-Dispatch reported yesterday that Stenger accused Dooley of not caring enough about the county's animal shelters, which he says is the reason there have been 50,000 killings over the past 10 years.
But the county's health department fired back, saying they're not the puppy murderers Stenger is making them out to be. And if they were, he would know about it because he has been kept well-informed about the inner-workings of the animal shelter process for quite a while.
Less than 24 hours after Stenger made the shelter mismanagement accusations, the county health department issued a press release that praised its shelter program:
"Several news stories have raised questions about our Animal Care and Control Program," said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health, "but by any indicator you use, we are operating one of the finest animal care organizations in the area."
The press release goes to praise the shelter's improvements under Dooley's tutelage, including bring the number of "for space" killings to "zero."
Gunn tells Daily RFT that Stenger inquired about the animal shelter program back in 2012 and was given detailed information. Among the questions asked in Stenger's inquiry was the number of animals euthanized.
That questions Stenger's claim that he didn't know about the issue. According to the Post-Dispatch:
Stenger was asked at the news conference why, as a member of the council, he had not done something sooner about the animal shelter killings. He said he was unaware of the ongoing problems.
And Gunn, who was appointed by Dooley, tells us that there is no problem.
'"All our euthanizations are done for humane reasons," she says. "We never euthanize an animal that's adoptable."
Nonetheless, many animals -- especially stray dogs and cats -- do get euthanized in St. Louis County, humane reasons or not. Here are the numbers for the past three years, the amount of time the county has to keep records for:
But Gunn says that the numbers are actually pretty good and below the state average:
Others are unconvinced everything's good in the animal shelter world. According to KMOX (1120), animal rights activists aren't buying the humanity of it all:
Helena Servis, a county resident, says she spent an entire week documenting the activities outside the shelter.
"No staff member even came out walking a dog," says Servis. "It is just unconscionable to use the kind of taxpayers' money that we have used to provide so little comfort and enjoyments for the animals that are ultimately put to death."
Whatever the case is in the dirty politics of animal shelters, here's a link for you to adopt a pet.
Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:
E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.