More and more animal shelters across the United States are turning to GPS to cut costs and monitor their animal control officers’ efficiency and behavior while on the job. Or at least they should. Take the case (an extreme one) of Demetria Hogan in Memphis, Tennessee. She was out on a call to pick up two pit bulls and bring them back to the Memphis Animal Shelter. Demetria was supposed to have followed proper procedure for such cases, which includes recording the capture of the dogs from the site into her logbook and into the animal shelter upon arrival. Just one pit bull showed up to the shelter. Although Demetria’s logs showed she had checked in both, security camera footage and further inquiry from police revealed she hadn’t–she’d stolen one pit bull. The other dog was at the shelter in the care of another worker. Although she was charged with forgery, misconduct, and property theft, Demetria Hogan was also charged with animal cruelty for a different case in which she checked into the shelter a lost dog (when she had not) who died from heat exposure under her supervision. Many believe the behavior could have been curtailed and the dog’s death avoided, if GPS tracking of Demetria (and control officers in similar situations) had been involved.
Officials in Memphis are concerned that even though the animal shelter has GPS tracking equipment available to hold animal control officers responsible for their unacceptable response times and other disappointing statistics when monitored, staff members are not using it efficiently. The results are that not as many lost pets are being rescued or strays picked up, with 20% fewer reaching the animal shelter. Previous advisory board member Cindy Marx-Sanders believes utilizing that GPS tracking of control officers would turn everything around. Doing so would not only keep a watchful eye on misbehaving animal control officers, but also maximize their use of time and routes from job to job and cut costs for wasted fuel (and eventually of Memphis taxpayers) significantly.
Baltimore, Maryland, has implemented a similar setup as of December 2012, and so far has seen great improvement. Officials expect to save their taxpayers about $100,000 in fuel as well as in other resources.