If Necessity is the mother of Invention, Unwarranted Self-Congratulation is its drunken uncle.
As someone who has been known to take a self-congratulatory turn himself on occasion, I perhaps take too much enjoyment in seeing others do it. Especially when the self- congratulation is totally absurd. Fortunately, working in the animal welfare world, I get to feed my guilty pleasure regularly. It is an industry where pinning a ribbon on yourself is common and much of the self-adulation is along the lines of the proverbial politician proudly proclaiming he hasn’t beaten his wife in weeks. [And if you want some self-congratulation, how was that for some alliteration?]
Recently we got a doozy of a self-love fest from our friends in Delaware County who entered into a five year contract with the Chester County SPCA to accept stray animals from Delaware County municipalities for a fee of $250 a head. This is actually a great deal for CCSPCA and a great deal for Delaware County, which doesn’t need to build and operate the animal control shelter it had planned and announced and even had pictures taken of them pushing dirt around at the selected site. Having another organization which is already up and running and operates as a charity take your animals is much more cost effective. I wish I had thought of that. The plan sounds so familiar.
The original plan of having the County build its own animal control shelter sounded really, really familiar, too. But that might be because it’s the plan that HSBC forwarded to County officials in April of 2011. They even got back to us as said they intended to contact us; alas, a contact which never occurred (but I keep all my emails…). Then they announced that they had developed a great new original plan that was, coincidentally I’m sure, strikingly similar to the plan we sent them. Oh, well, the other cliché is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.But while they were implementing their clever original plan, they needed a place to send strays since the Delaware County SPCA had dropped its animal control contracts with DelCo municipalities. Chester County SPCA was able to help and even got a damn good price for the service: $250 an animal, delivered. That’s when most of us wondered, “If CCPSPCA will take them, why would they build and staff a shelter in Delaware County at all?” The smart answer is they shouldn’t and they didn’t, and here I congratulate DelCo for doing the smart thing. And the best thing for animals since a high quality animal welfare agency like CCSPCA is going to do a vastly better job than a startup quasi-municipal/non-profit shelter could.
Better yet, by finally nailing down a real price they helped establish a price floor- not ceiling, but floor- for animal control services in Pennsylvania. They have helped drive up prices in Counties throughout the region, to the benefit of shelters and animals. Heck, I can’t help but reflect that when I started at Berks eight years ago and we took in 4,000 strays alone under contracts that provided merely $25 an animal, we would have brought in one million dollars on strays alone under this contract. That was more than our entire operating budget.
So I say good for you CCSPCA, good for the animals, and probably good for the residents of Delaware County, who now have at least five years of reliable animal control assistance.
And Delaware County animal control officials have been so gracious about it all, too. Delaware County Animal Control Czar, Tom Judge Jr., had the…OK, it’s a family blog so I’ll say “guts”, to utter, “It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t work with the organizations here in the county.” Yes, so unfortunate that they didn’t have a local organization to work with which was closer, perhaps even one which would have done the job for less money. Say it with me: Oh, wait, they did! As the entire world knows, the recipient of Judge’s snide jab was the Delaware County SPCA, which provided precisely that service to them for decades, for vastly less money.
Then, when the DCSPCA finally asked for more money, the municipalities balked, fought, screamed, and ultimately helped DCSPCA reach the conclusion that if they didn’t have the resources to take in the strays and save them too, they would make the decision to go no kill and not take in strays at all. A principled decision helped along by fiscal reality- and no small heaping of abuse by their supposed partners among the municipalities. What was this outrageous, onerous, usurious fee they were asking for? Was it $1,000 an animal, or even $500? It must have been ginormous compared to this great new deal of $250 an animal.
How much was Delaware County SPCA asking for? $116 per animal.
That’s right. Delaware County’s animal control Armageddon was over a fee increase to $116 an animal, less than half what it pays now for less convenient service since animals need to be driven to another county for housing. And it’s unfortunate, to quote Judge, that DelCo SPCA wouldn’t work with them? What, they weren’t charging enough?
And this is where I nearly fall on the floor, laughing my butt off each time I reread what is perhaps the finest bit of unwarranted self-congratulation in the history of animal welfare. DelCo Animal Control Vice-Czar, Mario Civera, dropped this gem on the world. “What we did here in Delaware County, that was a first.”
I must beg to differ. I think there is a reason that politicians rank with used car salesmen (with apologies to used car salesmen) in polls showing levels of respect by citizens. It’s because only a politician can claim a victory for paying twice as much as what they used to pay for something. Wasting tax payer money is nothing to be proud of. And it’s hardly a first.
But, boys, from one self-congratulator to another, I like your moxy!