Remember when we used to refer animal control shelters as the “dog pound”?
It’s an unflattering nickname for what’s supposed to be a place where unwanted pets — dogs, cats and whatever else — are housed until fate comes calling.
Well, the Amarillo animal control department has a new name. It’s now called Animal Management & Welfare.
The “welfare” name perhaps is most important given the controversy that has enveloped the department in recent weeks.
A Randall County grand jury investigation looked into whether animals were being subjected to cruel treatment as they were being euthanized. The grand jury declined to indict anyone over the allegations of mistreatment. The two top animal control staffers — Mike McGee and Shannon Barlow — “retired” as a consequence of the investigation.
What is known is that staffers violated state law by failing to weigh the animals prior to administering the lethal drugs. The result reportedly was that animals indeed did suffer needlessly as they died.
The city has enacted several new policies as a result. They include: promoting transparency and compassion; using an online service to report lost and impounded animals; a new identification system for animals; improvements in customer service; improvements to the physical surroundings at the shelter.
The media reports about the manner in which the animals were being treated hit many Amarillo residents hard. That happens when animals are involved. Human beings have this inherent soft spot as it regards domestic pets.
The city also ought to be much more proactive as well in promoting spaying, neutering and vaccinating of pets. That, too, would help stem the problem of euthanizing so many animals every year.
For now the name has changed at what’s now called Amarillo’s Animal Management & Welfare Department. Let’s hope what happens inside those walls is in keeping with the new name on the building.