Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shortcomings at MADACC - Cooperation with Transport Partners

The Ride of Their Life
Dogs being transferred by BRATS volunteers from MADACC to Elmbrook Humane Society  
This is the fourth installment in a series of ten blogs outlining current issues at Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC).

In the Purpose and Organizational Goals of the  2013 Operating Budget, MADACC's mission statement says: 

  • Provide and encourage responsible, safe placement opportunities for homeless animals.
  • Improve and develop new strategies to increase transfer of animals to new placement partners.

I mentioned this in #2 of the series, where MADACC's unwillingness to work with rescue partners has actually cost healthy, friendly animals their lives.  Today, I'll focus on MADACC's unwillingness to work with BRATS (Badger Rescue Animal Transport Services), the all volunteer rescue transport system in our state. 

When MADACC works with placement partners,  everybody wins. 

  • The taxpayer wins because MADACC's costs are reduced:  - the animals are shifted into the care of other philanthropic organizations. The taxpayer doesn't have  to pay to house, care for, "euthanize" and dispose of the animal's body. 
  • The community wins because pet ownership creates positive revenue for businesses that cater to pet owners such as pet supply stores, groomers, veterinarians and boarding facilities. 
  • The new adopters win because they have added a valuable member to their family, along with the many health and social benefits that go along with pet ownership.
  •  And of course - the animal wins because they get to live!
In recent months, under the interim directorship of John McDowell and the veterinarian, Dr. Gutting, the barriers to transfer have increased.   

BRATS is a shining star in Wisconsin's animal welfare system.  Established in 2008  to ensure that no Wisconsin animal be euthanized because of a lack of a ride to a placement partner, BRATS has transported over 7100 animals on the "Ride of Their Lfe" since they began. When a placement partner has space available they look at the MADACC transfer list and choose which animals they can accommodate. BRATS then makes arrangements to transport the animal to the receiving shelter.  They transport as far away as Rhinelander, or as close as Brookfield. So far in 2012, 1258 animals have been transported from this location. This is a free service, operated  and funded by volunteers who donate their time, gas money and vehicle for a cause that they believe in. 

Lynn Mitchell, President of BRATS, shares her thoughts: 

"Here’s our big problem with the holds.  We cannot set up a transport until we know the holds have been placed on the animals.  Nobody seems to know what “hold” means.  We have asked repeatedly but have not received any type of answer.  It’s like there isn’t a procedure.  They all refer to the procedure but they can’t tell us what it is.  We have been waiting for close to two months.  

All we have asked for is a little cooperation from MADACC.  As it stands now we get 24 hours to transport an animal out of MADACC.   This is an unrealistic thing to ask of any group – especially when they are all volunteers.   Rescues and shelters outside of the Milwaukee metro area have a heck of a time complying with this.  

In the case of BRATS it is not unusual for us to get a request at 10:30 PM on a Monday night for an animal that needs to be out on Tuesday.   By the time we see that request it may be 7 AM on Tuesday morning.  Our schedulers are getting ready to go to work at their “real jobs” and now have the responsibility to try to find someone at a moment’s notice to transport this animal to have it done within the 24 hour hold period.   If we need to get an animal on a transport before 10 AM in order to meet up with another transport it is hit or miss.  We must have 24 hours written notice from the vet that this is satisfactory to her and her staff.   Kind of like the chicken or the egg!  We can’t get 24 hours written notice from the vet and have any chance of getting the animals out of there within 24 hours.  There is zero flexibility on their behalf.  This was something that was put into law at MADACC in August 2012.  

Too many times we have shown up and the animals have already left with someone else or they have been euthanized.  This is a waste of time and money not only to the driver but to the schedulers who put so much time into setting it up.  

We were on pace to transport 1,600 animals ALIVE out of there this year.  With the turmoil at MADACC, we have gone from a high of 185 animals in May to a November count of 34 animals.  The board seems to have no idea what is going on under their watch. 

We have to question their sincerity of this 2013 goal as transportation is one of the key components to getting the animals out alive.  BRATS is local, we are a no cost service, we are there when we say we are going to be there, we get the job done.  What more could they possibly want?  They need to understand the problems we run into and how a one sided relationship doesn’t work long term.  We do not have these types of issues with any other shelter in Wisconsin.  MADACC is a true oddity."

Two things jump out at me from Lynn's statement:

1. The lack of a written procedure for a government agency that is responsible for $3 million dollars of taxpayer's money and the lives of our community's animals.

2. A board of directors who apparently are uncommunicative and have no idea what is going on under their "watch". 

If you are a resident of Milwaukee County and are concerned about how your tax dollars are spent and how your community's animals are treated, I urge you to contact your elected officials.  Thank you for caring.


  1. I think all placement partners would agree that a standard protocol for placing holds on the animals would be greatly appreciated. It would facilitate more animals being pulled, and pulled sooner, if we were able to plan our intake.

    When we place a hold or note of interest we all realize that if the owner comes forward, they have the right to claim the animal. The group I am with is local so we can visit MADACC on our own and do our own transports. However, if a group has to plan transports, they need to be able to place a hold ahead of time where they have a reasonable certainty that they will be able to pull it after the stray hold. With all the obstacles placed in the placement partner's (and BRATS) way, and the number of animals available through other sources, it is easy to see why transfer rates have gone down.

    1. There is a protocol but it favors certain groups over others. 2 groups get to put animals on hold on the 4th day while everyone else has to wait until the 6th day. These other 2 groups also get to test the dogs before they put them on hold while the rest of us are just shooting in the dark. We have to rely upon cage presentation or on the test results of these other groups which we have found to not be all that accurate in many cases. If we want to test for ourselves we have to waits until they are on the transfer list. It would be nice if we would all be treated equally; that would make it easier to plan for transport if necessary.

  2. Thank you for this web site! There are way to many animals at MADACC being put down. I wish that more people would check the stats. Its shameful! Hopefully your web site will people to wake up and see whats going on right under there noses. Thank you!!

  3. I agree. MADACC has had a dubious record at best. It seems like MADACC has almost everything in place to be No Kill overnight if they wanted to be. Another source that pulls from MADACC has told me that they've been very disappointed with the new director because he's not doing any of the things that he said he would when he started the job.

    I've been wondering who to contact. Is this a Milwaukee County Board issue where I should contact the supervisor or should I contact my alderman?