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Humane Society considers revising adoption policy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | 5:54 p.m. CDT; updated 9:25 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 29, 2009

COLUMBIA – The Central Missouri Humane Society’s Board of Directors decided Tuesday night to consider additional input before changing its adoption guidelines.

On the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting was a review of the recently proposed changes to pet adoption guidelines.

Under the current adoption guidelines, the shelter requires verbal or written permission from landlords if renters want to adopt, and requires that animals already at a home are up to date on vaccinations before a shelter animal is adopted.  Staff members usually communicate with veterinarians to ensure that pet owners provide adequate care and vaccinations before allowing adoption of an additional pet.

Current policies also require that dogs, cats and rabbits are spayed or neutered before they move from the shelter to a home and prevents adopted animals from entering homes with intact animals.

The proposed changes “strongly encourage” that adopters receive permission from landlords, parents or roommates before adopting a pet and “recommend that” pets currently in a home are vaccinated before adopting a new pet.

Although the proposed changes would still require that animals are spayed or neutered before they leave the shelter, the proposal would no longer require that pets already in homes be spayed or neutered before a new pet can be adopted.

Before discussing the proposed changes, the board opened the floor for public comment. Shelter staff members, representatives from other animal care organizations, landlords, volunteers, humane society financial supporters and foster care volunteers pointed out flaws in the proposed changes.

The most disagreeable changes among critics were revisions to the spay and neuter requirements, as well as the elimination of required landlord permission and verification of proper immunization and testing through communication with veterinarians.

After an hour of public comment, the majority of which concerned the proposed changes to the adoption policy, the Board of Directors decided not to take any action on the proposal.

Instead, the board voted to compile a seven-person committee by the next time it meets on Nov. 10 that would decide the best course of action and prepare a proposal for adoption policies by Dec. 8.

The committee would be comprised of one Central Missouri Humane Society staff member, one animal foster care provider, the shelter’s adoptions manager, two humane society board members and two community members who will be selected by the board. Executive Director Patty Forister will also be part of the committee, though she will not have voting power.

Community members will be selected through a call for participants, posted on the local humane society’s Web page. The board will then select who will serve on the committee from those that express interest in the positions. 

The board considered building a committee to work on the adoption policy at the suggestion of a public comment. Taking input seriously may show the board’s newfound commitment to transparency and openness.

The board has decided to conduct business according to the state Open Meetings and Records Law, even though they are not required to do so in most cases, according to advice from lawyer Steve Scott.

As part of its open policy, regular board meetings will now be open to the public, and times and locations will be posted 24 hours ahead of the meeting on the Web site.

“We certainly didn’t mean to appear closed in any way,” Forister said.  She explained that the board began holding closed sessions because there was a general lack of public attendance and comment.

The board also decided to post meeting minutes on the shelter’s Web site, use a recording device for more accurate minutes and create a paid position to listen to recordings and type meeting minutes.


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Comments

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