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A New Day Dawns for Milwaukee County's Animals

Karen Sparapani begins her new job as Executive Director of Milwaukee Animal Control (MADACC).

The sun looks a little brighter this morning. Not because we are getting closer to spring but because today is the day that Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) has a new Executive Director.  Karen Sparapani, formerly the Director of Elmbrook Humane Society in Brookfield has taken over the reins of MADACC.

Although Elmbrook is a much smaller shelter, Karen managed to attain an outstanding live release rate for dogs of 97% and 95% for cats. Karen has a strong commitment to judging each animal as an individual and doing the right thing for each and every animal in her care.

A strong, compassionate leader is an important part of the No Kill Equation and we are lucky that we now have Karen looking out for Milwaukee County's animals.

So, is the work of Milwaukee Animal Alliance over? Far from it. In fact, it is just beginning. The goal of MAA is to create a framework of protection for Milwaukee County's animals so that no matter if Karen is in the position for one year, five years or ten; that the reign of terror that is currently MADACC is never able to be repeated. MADACC will never again regress to a place where an animal that enters the building has only a 50/50 chance of exiting alive.

Kelly Herbold, of MAA states " We are very optimistic that operations at MADACC will vastly improve with the hiring of Karan Sparapani as its new Executive Director.  Her experience running a great shelter like Elmbrook Humane Society will aid her in improving MADACC.  We hope the Board of Directors and the entire MADACC staff will stand behind Karen, as MAA plans to do. We look forward to working with Karen as we strive to fulfill our vision for Milwaukee County's animals."

I intended to write ten blogs about shortcomings at MADACC. I did seven (eight if you include the original one about banning volunteers).  I have a stack of complaint and issues left that I can write on.  Thank you to all of the volunteers, rescues and public that came forward with documentation and complaints. My unwritten pile of complaints include: sickness and poor cleaning protocols; poor customer service; poor communications; stray intake procedures; late term abortions; and poor veterinary care.

But at this time, we feel that Karen needs support from the Board of Directors, the public and the present staff and management more than anything.

The Board of Directors is made up of one representative from each of the nineteen municipalities that MADACC serves.  Six of these board members make up the Operating Committee.

Some of the board members have no interest in MADACC. This is very apparent by their lack of communication, their attitudes and their lack of knowledge of animal welfare. One has such little interest, that he hasn't attended a board meeting in three years.

Dozens of citizens have voiced legitimate complaints in the past few months. What would a well-functioning board do? I would think they would say something along the lines of:

"Thank you, Mr. Taxpayer for your concerns. We will set up a sub-committee to look into them and we will keep an open line of communication with you regarding our findings and progress."

But MADACC doesn't have a well-functioning board. They have a heads down, paper-shuffling bunch of bureaucrats who don't acknowledge correspondence, concerns or problems. They have not replied to the public's concerns. EVER.  In my opinion, Ron Hayward, president of the MADACC board has failed to run the board in a manner where taxpayers and voters have reasonable input about how their tax dollars are being spent.

He  has failed to hold the board and staff accountable to MADACC's mission: "to use euthanasia as the last resort."  MAA has reached out to Ron Hayward and still hopes to have a productive and meaningful dialogue with him.

This following is taken directly from the MAA vision statement:

"We want commitment on the part of MADACC's Executive Director and Board of Directors to move forward with progressive reforms - published quantifiable goals and timelines; transparency, accountability; and a formation of a Citizen's Advocacy Board."

So, no.  Our work isn't done.  And we ask you to be a part of it.  Please join us tomorrow to welcome Karen and show your support for her in her new position at the MADACC Operations Committee meeting at 1 p.m. in the conference room at MADACC - 3839 W Burnham Street.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kathy Pobloskie February 18, 2013 at 10:21 PM
The date and time of the meeting I mentioned above has been changed to Thursday, February 21 at 1:30 p.m. Hope to see you there!

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