San Diego County Department of Animal Services: Run Far Away, Run Fast!

OK, almost everyone has a story about the nutty stuff we have to do when interfacing with local bureaucracy. Here’s mine: Last week our neighbors Craig and Alison were walking their dog Buddy about 9pm. Our street ends at a canyon that is full of coyotes; Craig and Alison saw a kitten there. Craig is allergic but they knew that the kitten would be eaten if left there and they called us. We agreed to keep the kitten for the night and suspected that it had been abandoned. But we also wanted him returned if it was lost.

The next morning Alison took him to the Humane Society to see if he had a microchip. Alas, the Humane Society doesn’t check for this and they sent Alison next door to the Department of Animal Services (aka the Pound). When Alison asked about the microchip the DAS took the kitten, told her that they would have to hold him for 5 days, but that Alison could apply to adopt him if nobody claimed him.

Since Nancy and I wanted to adopt this kitten I went down to their offices to fill out an application where I was told that I could have the kitten in 7 days (assuming he wasn’t claimed); when I asked why it went from 5 to 7 days I was cheerfully told that it was 5 business days. I filled out a form and was told that on Wednesday from 10AM to 11AM I could adopt him, but that after 11AM anyone could adopt him.

It was a long week, but I checked on him a few times. I could see him through the window but couldn’t have any contact. This morning I got there at 9:30. I was told that I could indeed adopt him, but when the caseworker saw the carrier I brought she cheerfully said: “Oh you don’t need a carrier. You won’t be bringing him home today.” When I asked why not she said that he has to be neutered and that appointment would be set for Saturday or Sunday (even though they are closed on Sunday).

Never underestimate the power of a well placed glare. Because of my glaring at the caseworker, the operation is set for tomorrow and I can pick him up tomorrow. I tried my best to get them to guarantee that there will be no other delays. We’ll see if that happens.

Here is my question: they have to neuter him by state law before releasing him and I support that. They’ve known for a week (or 5 business days, whichever comes first) that I want to adopt him. Why didn’t they neuter him during the week? Unfortunately this is a department that still euthanizes animals from time to time and I understand that they don’t want to perform an operation on an animal that won’t go home, but they knew this kitten would go home. I also promised them I would have my veterinarian neuter him if I could have him today but that went nowhere (even though I would be willing to pay and save the county money).

Speaking of money, they’ve had to house and feed this kitten for 7 days when I would have willing to take him. I’m not normally one who bangs the drum of government waste, but this is one time when it’s staring me in the face.

Stay tuned.

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