The Transylvania Times -

Changes Made To Animal Control - Brevard, NC

 

August 30, 2018



During their regularly scheduled meeting Monday, Transylvania County commissioners approved changes to Animal Control.

Supervision of Animal Control’s functions will remain under Emergency Management Director Kevin Shook, while the Animal Control director position will now be a shelter manager. The department will also have two divisions: shelter operations, and enforcement and response.

The reorganization would allow the two divisions’ focus to be distinct yet still meet the overall goal of animal welfare for Transylvania County, said Kevin Shook, the Emergency Management coordinator who has been the interim Animal Control director since January.

Shook recommended the changes to Animal Control. He told commissioners that after he became interim director efforts to recruit a permanent director were made. An offer to a candidate was rejected, and the county was unable to recruit someone who was qualified to oversee both enforcement and shelter management, Shook said.

Shook said he began evaluating staff placement for the potential reorganization. He found that between Jan. 1, 2017, and Aug. 13, 2017, three Animal Control officers handled 839 requests for service. During the same time period in 2018, except for 30 days when the department had three officers, two officers handled 789 requests for service.

Officers also assisted with animal care needs and adoptions in the shelter on the weekends or as needed, Shook said. This added demand, he said, takes away from patrolling and responding to incidents effectively.

Shook said Animal Control is an integral part of Emergency Services, which responds as part of the County Animal Response Team, as well as assisting with shelter duties during times of emergency.

The shelter continues to deal with high demands, Shook said, with staff working to provide quality care and a healthy environment.

An important component is working with volunteers to adopt animals to suitable homes. The shelter’s function, Shook said, is in contrast to the enforcement function, which is part of the challenge in finding a candidate that can effectively handle both functions.

The approved changes include:

•Filling vacant full-time animal care technician position;

•Creating a shelter manager position to oversee shelter operations; and

•Creating a part-time animal care technician position.

•The shelter manager and lead Animal Control officer will report to the Emergency Management coordinator.

•The Lead Animal Control officer will supervise two-and-a-half employees. The shelter manager will supervise two-and-a-half employees, plus part-time employees.

The financial impact, beginning in the 2019-2020 fiscal year is a $5,663 increase in salaries.

The goal of the changes, Shook said, will be to improve the live animal release figures, which at 86 percent is one of the best in the state.

County Manager Jaime Laughter also noted that new rules implemented in 2016 for disaster response require coordination between Emergency Management and Animal Control.

Commissioner Page Lemel was impressed by Shook’s plan and wondered why the county hadn’t implemented it before.

Commissioner Mike Hawkins said the 86 percent figure was a piece of “quantifiable data” to use to judge effectiveness.

He asked about exercise schedules for the animals, which was pointed out as important by members of the public during the meeting.

Shook said the shelter manager would be able to coordinate activities with the volunteers, who, he said, are a “critical component.”

Dogs can get “kennel stress” unless they are regularly taken for walks and can lead to them becoming unadoptable, Shook said.

The animal shelters relies on volunteers to, for one, taking the dogs on walks. Commissioner Jason Chappell asked that numbers be presented in the future to see the effectiveness of the changes.

Laughter said a report will be presented in January.

Doggy Day Out Program

Commissioners said they wanted to hear more details about potential liability issues before implementing a Doggy Day Out Program.

The program would basically allow people to take dogs from the Animal Shelter for outings or field trips in the community, reducing kennel stress for the animals.

During the meeting’s public comment period, several people spoke in favor of the program.

Shook told comm-issioners staff contacted Mutual Rescue, which developed the program to improve adoption rates.

No shelters in North Carolina currently use the program, but Shook said staff believes it has merit.

He presented some points to consider that could impact staffing and resources:

•Recommended staffing with specialty in animal behavior. Transylvania County does not have staff persons with this qualification.

•Program covers several elements of liability to protect the animal from potential harm, the participants and the responsible organization.

•County’s insurance carrier suggested there is some exposure potential and recommended at minimum having waivers in place.

•Kits should be made available that allows for safe transport and care of dogs while away from the shelter.

More from the meeting will appear in Monday’s paper.

 
 

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