Milwaukee homeless and down-trodden animals need your help. The main organization to care for strays and homeless animals and investigate animal cruelty, Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC), needs the support of the entire community to grow from its foundations as simply an animal control agency to the organization in Milwaukee that cares exclusively for Milwaukee’s animals in need from unclaimed strays to the victims of animal cruelty including those used for dog fighting.
I am a long time (10 plus years) volunteer and activist for animal welfare in Milwaukee county. I have worked with many organizations in the Greater Milwaukee area including Waukesha County, volunteering my services to any organization that needs assistance. I currently volunteer for MADACC (and in full disclosure I was on and my wife still is on the board of their friends’ group) as well as Residents for Off-leash Milwaukee Parks (ROMP) the dog park advocacy organization for Milwaukee. In all my years assisting various animal welfare groups, I have been and still am amazed by the lack of awareness of the general public of Milwaukee on MADACC and what they do for the community and our domesticated animals.
Milwaukee is fairly unique in that we have MADACC that does animal control, and other agencies that do adoptions for MADACC’s animals. At one time we had an organization that served as what we typically think of as a Humane Society – doing both animal control (taking in strays) and adoptions, but the contract with the municipalities was ended in 1996 and since the county now lacked this service the Milwaukee County Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (a representation of each community in Milwaukee County) created an Animal Control Services Planning/Steering Committee to plan for animal control services for Milwaukee County called Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC). MADACC receives funding allocated by pet licensing and budgets from each community. Initially MADACC was funded solely for animal control. That means going into the field and taking in stray animals and seizing mistreated animals. By law they are beholden to keep an animal for seven days to see if the owner will claim them. You will notice adoptions are not mentioned there. The missing piece was what to do with the animals that came in and were not claimed by their owners.
MADACC did not have the resources allocated by our communities to process adoptions, and the building was not setup for long term housing of animals. MADACC realized the best way to care for these animals was to find other organizations to take them and serve as the adoption agencies. Many animal welfare agencies including permanent humane societies as well as smaller home based rescue organizations come to MADACC to take what animals they could each week, but these are also helping animals from their own area or around the state. Since this new arrangement came into being, organizations outside Milwaukee County have had to help – humane societies from Waukesha county for example take animals from Milwaukee. In addition, new organizations (breed rescue groups) have formed to create a network for MADACC to get animals they get and are not claimed out to new homes.
The growing problem for Milwaukee was that we have lacked of a large, well-funded organization dedicated to focus on adopting MADACC’s animals, and the euthanasia rate was disheartening. Despite there being organizations here in Milwaukee for the purpose of adoptions, some of their space is taken up by animals from other areas including completely out of state and they are not focused on Milwaukee animals. In the mean time passionate individuals that may or may not have the skills and experience have popped up to try to adopt more animals out by taking them from MADACC, and a few that tackle the advocacy issues. These rescue groups can and do many great things, more often than not they serve a need and in many ways can provide better care for the animals while they have them since they are primarily in foster homes, and take more time to match the animals with their new home. Unfortunately the results of these foundling organizations can be also less than stellar and can turn off the public from the issues at hand and confuse the matter more than solve it. They can cause more issues than they resolve by taking more animals than they can effectively care for, not properly screening adopters thus creating cycles of rehoming, and diluting or inflaming discussions about advocacy.
In order to help improve the prospects of animals served by MADACC, two years ago their director decided to create a volunteer program to get people to come help MADACC with increasing the adoptions. At first this meant socializing and exercising the animals while there so that when other agencies came to take animals more and more animals would show better health and temperament to improve their chance at being accepted into another program. To increase the things that the volunteers could do, a non-profit group called Friends of MADACC was formed to do fundraising, awareness, and volunteer recruitment. In the past few years since MADACC did outreach to other agencies and added volunteers the euthanasia rate has improved significantly, some months it has gone from close to 50% to almost half that. This has been a huge step towards MADACC becoming what it can and should be for our community, but they need our support to keep moving forward.
I hope now that Milwaukeeans, all people of the county not just activists, know about and understand what MADACC does for our animals, and seeks to do in the future. We need to stand up make all organizations, especially your own communities that fund MADACC, aware of our expectations and hold them all to those expectations – to help Milwaukee’s animals.
MADACC is currently hiring a new Executive Director, and the hopes of the volunteers is that the council of civic representatives hires one that will continue and advance the volunteer programs and increase the activities above and beyond the basic function of MADACC.
Tell your community leaders – your mayors, town leaders, and council members that we all need to give a little more to MADACC so they can do more with what they have . Let them know that we expect more from the basic governmental support of animal welfare. Tell your any of the local animal welfare agencies that you want them to focus on local animals and recommend that they use some more resources to help MADACC out. Ask them where their animals came from so they know we want them to help the problem here, not somewhere else.
It has been too long that Milwaukeeans are unaware of the most important agency for animal welfare in their community – MADACC. Please help MADACC help Milwaukee’s needy animals – begin by visiting http://www.madaccfriends.org.