June 30, 2009

STATUS: Bell County Stealth Policy-Making

Bell County Commissioners took note of public advocacy for extending the rabies prevention and control protocol to three years. Then they held their next policy discussion meeting on June 23, 2009 outside public view. The only public notice of it was posted at the Bell County Commissioner's Court.

Dr. Szeremi of the Killeen Animal Advisory Board, who initiated this policy review on behalf of the City of Killeen, was not invited. None of the national proponents for aligning the county protocol with national and state guidelines were notified. None of the Texas advocates were aware of the meeting date or agenda.

Only one Bell County pet owner who specifically requested of the County Commissioner's Office to be notified of any meeting discussing rabies was in attendance.

Regarding the Bell County, TX, rabies situation, I attended the county commissioners workshop on the rabies issue Tuesday, June 23.=2 0There was the county judge and three commissioners (one commissioner absent), one vet from Fort Hood area who was representing the area vets (for one-year vaccination, of course), and me who tried to represent dogs and dog owners, though I am in no way persuasive or a good speaker. They let the vet and me sit at the big table with them and give our positions. There was a reporter there, and an article that was fair appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram the next day. The article apparently is not available in the on-line archives of the Telegram.

Scant public notice. Limited local news coverage. Not a single word about rabies prevention and control in the County Commissioner's Court Archives. Those good old boys better be careful. Someone might get the idea they have something to hide.

We are currently besieging the Bell County Commissioner's office to request notification of meeting dates before any further discussion of this issue takes place.

Public policy made in stealth mode can't be good for the public and spells trouble for companion animals in Bell County.

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