Commissioners work to improve animal control procedures
by Jazz Clark
Last Thursday’s Morgan County Commission meeting was awash with animal control. New policies have been drawn up to answer public concerns.
At the May 3 meeting, County Administrator Jody McClintock and Animal Control Officer Jason Pearce outlined several key areas that could be improved.
These included a basic vaccination pack, the Vanguard 5, that would be used to vaccinate against distemper, parvo, hepatitis, adenovirus and influenza. Estimated cost is around $915 per year.
They proposed improved record-keeping of daily and weekly reports, a moreprofessional and hygienic dress code and more robust and detailed cleaning procedures.
One item, under the Dog Processing policy, states dogs not fostered or adopted within 30 days would be euthanized on the 31th day. Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson objected to this procedure.
“I think that we should leave that up to our animal control officer,” Hutchinson said. “What if an animal comes in and it’s obviously not adoptable? Why are we keeping it for 30 days? And why would we get rid of a dog that might be adopted on the thirty-first day?”
Commissioner Brad Close, however, favored a clear time limit.
“As far as the Animal Control Officer goes, we need to make it as cut and dry as possible,” said Close. ”That takes all liability out of his hands. These policies are a step in the right direction.”
The State Code is open-ended, but outlines a time frame of at least five days in animal control custody before dogs are adopted or euthanized.
Other improvements are being attempted at the Rt. 9 kennels while funds are being sought for a new facility.
The house on the property, now the animal control office, has been outfitted with internet, a desk and a filing cabinet. Part of daily upkeep will be updating the animal control website which lists all the dogs.
Since the Animal Control van is currently under maintenance, the plan is to try and find a small crew cab truck at a Highway Department Surplus sale. The cost would be $3,500 plus cap.
Because of mileage costs, the commission had originally looked into something along the lines of a Ford Ranger. The cab, however, would allow for extra gear storage, McClintock said.
A bid of $2,000 was received from Bill’s Plumbing to take out the sink and put in a bathing area for the dogs at the county kennel.
A sign is on order for the kennel front yard, and a sign has been put on the side of the animal control van.
Overcrowding wasn’t currently an issue since there was only one dog at the facility on May 3.
Seeking better facility
Some continue to believe the Rt. 9 kennels are inhumane and must be replaced.
Amy Lane, spokesperson for “Bark at the Commissioners,” said she has proven at her own kennels that a low-cost facility is possible, having built one for around $125,000 in 2004.
“It’s not such an expensive endeavor that we shouldn’t even try,” Lane said.
The commissioners will submit a request for a $300,000 grant to the Petco Corporation for a new kennel facility.
The commission originally thought the grant had a limit of $70,000.
President Stacy Dugan was concerned, however, about taking advice from Lane.
“We’re not even in the same ballpark here. We take dogs that no one else wants,” Dugan said. “You’re in this to make a profit. I sell dogs too, but I’m not here advertising my kennels at a public meeting.”
Lane was taken aback at these insinuations.
“I’m not advertising my dogs. I have never sold a dog to anyone in Morgan County,” Lane said. “For you to suggest that I’m here to advertise is just another way of sweeping this issue under the rug.”
Lane’s documents were presented only to the commissioners and not published online because it wasn’t appropriate, said Hutchinson.
Lane felt President Dugan was out of line, and many of the attending crowd loudly agreed.
Though she appreciates the efforts being put into revamping the current facility, the problems most of them have cannot be fixed on that property.
“Sometimes we should do more than the bare minimum,” Lane said. “What’s wrong with finding dogs a permanent home versus putting them down because that’s all we’re required to do?”
The commissioners said they are grateful, however, for the donations received from the community.
Fifteen dog beds were donated in just eight days. And of the two catchpoles received by the Sheriff’s Department, one was passed on to Animal Control.
The commission has a wish list on their website of items still needed, which could be donated.