Dixie Dogs and Cats communications director Beth Foster requested permission to allow animal advocacy groups to photograph animals at the Cleveland Animal Shelter and post on pet adoption websites. The Cleveland Animal Shelter currently has volunteers who take pictures of incoming animals and post the photos on the website “Petfinder.”
“The pictures that are being taken now are dark and out of focus. The descriptions of the animals are often generic. We would like to take good, clear pictures,” said Foster.
Cleveland Police Assistant Chief Gary Hicks said he had no problem with the advocacy groups photographing the animals; however, he is concerned with public safety and liability issues.
“We’re not against people coming into the shelter. It’s just that from the city’s perspective we have liability issues. When you have four or five different people coming in there wanting to take photographs on their time, it makes it difficult,” said Hicks.
Dixie Dogs and Cats volunteer Abby Hubbard spoke at the meeting and said she would agree to sign a liability waiver in order to photograph the animals.
Hicks said advocacy groups could schedule times to photograph the animals and encouraged the organizations to volunteer at the shelter.
An agreement was also made between the Cleveland Animal Shelter Board and city officials that any pet owner who brings an animal to the shelter will first be provided a list of rescue organizations in an attempt to have the pet adopted.
“We want the shelter to be an absolute last resort for people,” said Cleveland Animal Control Director Gene Smith.
Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel said residents need to be educated on the importance of the spaying and neutering of pets.
“We’re trying to solve our spay/neuter problem. So many animals are still leaving the shelter without being spayed or neutered. I think that is where it begins, the root problem,” said Casteel.
Cleveland Animal Shelter board member Kathy Kinder said, “There needs to be new legislation to make pet owners more responsible.”