BARC Update By Houston PetTalk Reader Bett Sundermeyer
After much public outrage, letters, faxes and emails over an “interim measure” which prohibited the transfer of previously quarantined, safe, bite and scratch case animals, Barbara Sudhoff, interim Bureau Chief at BARC again changed the policy to once more allow these animals to be transferred to rescue groups. In addition, these animals will now be available for adoption to the general public. This was not the case before the “interim measure”, so it is an additional step that will help give these animals a chance to be adopted. We wish to thank Ms. Sudhoff for her efforts.
However, there are still many problems plaguing BARC. In October 2008, Stephen Williams, Director of Health and Human Services, agreed to hire Nathan Winograd, the leading expert in No Kill sheltering, to assess BARC and make recommendations that could lower the high kill rate as well as stop the inhumane treatment and rampant disease that has plagued BARC for years. However, after 2 1/2 months of trying to negotiate with Houston assistant city attorney, Michele Austin, Mr. Winograd reports that all negotiations have ceased. Ms. Austin refused to remove a “gag order” and requirement that Mr. Winograd indemnify the city against all lawsuits.
I believe that the indemnity that Ms. Austin demanded is unreasonable considering that the contract is worth only $5,000. I suspect that no other city contractor with a contract of this small value would be able to assume the risk that she has demanded of Mr. Winograd. So, I would question whether the city demands this same indemnity from other small city contractors. If not, requiring it of Mr. Winograd is discriminatory.
The city is currently interviewing for the BARC Bureau Chief job. A really wonderful person applied for the job months ago, but the city waited so long to interview him that he had to take another job. Citizens must speak up now and DEMAND that the city attorney remove the unreasonable indemnity language and gag order from Mr. Winograd’s contract and SIGN IT so we can move forward with positive changes. Citizens must also DEMAND that the city hire a Bureau Chief who will not only protect the public safety, which is the city’s goal, but the new Bureau Chief must also work very hard to reduce the number of adoptable animals killed at BARC, which is the goal of citizens and tax payers. To learn how you can help, click here.