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October 5, 2006

ANIMAL CONTROL HOT TOPIC AT BOC MEETING

Once again Animal Control was on the agenda, and once again there was lively discussion about it. Comm. Yarbrough read out "58 hours overtime, 60 hours overtime," and determined we just needed another Animal Control officer.

No one on the BOC has yet addressed the issue of just what the AC officer does with her time, but more importantly WHO is supervising the AC officer and verifying all these overtime hours? As people have told TWG, and someone else said at the meeting, there are complaints all the time from people that the AC officer doesn't return telephone calls and doesn't respond to their complaints. Many people have seen the AC officer and Raymond Rogers, the Code Enforcement officer, spend many hours either in the same vehicle or following one another. It appears as if we have two people doing AC already, yet there are high overtime hours. How many complaints does the Commissioner's and P&Z office receive? Does anyone keep track of that in a log? If not, someone needs to be keeping up with the complaints and find out if anyone ever followed up. (This is a solution to a problem!)

Has anyone ever read or heard of the hours that citizens can go to the AC shelter to pick up his or her pet? Or what about adopting a pet before they are disposed of? How do you know if your dog is at the AC shelter or not, when no one returns your telephone calls? There are no hours posted and no one can tell you when you might find staff at the AC shelter. How do people retrieve their pets?

It was indicated at the meeting that there was not enough room at our new AC shelter for the 40 dogs that were recently picked up, so they were all taken to Butts County. According to an editorial in the Monticello News, when a woman wanted to retrieve her dog and went to see Mr. Rogers about it, he informed her if she came back on County property she would be arrested and put in jail. Really? Is this how our county employees are allowed to treat citizens? Since when can a citizen not go on County property? And since when does Mr. Rogers have that authority? The BOC was questioned about this on Monday at their meeting. Of course, there were no answers, but the solution is to again ask themselves WHO is this employee's supervisor and why hasn't this been looked into? The Commissioners should be embarrassed about what has gone on! Yet they look at anyone that questions them with blank stares. One can surely bet that if one of the Commissioner's pets was picked up and he was treated this way something would be done. But the citizens don't rate that high!

Every time Animal Control is on the agenda, it is not about what you would think would be discussed-such as how many dogs they picked up; how many calls they answered; how many dogs were adopted. No nothing like that. The only thing ever presented to the BOC is how much money the county has spent on killing animals and why we need our own crematorium. The story is the same every time. You have to have 2 people to give lethal injections to the dogs. We can do that here, but there has to be 2 people that are certified. As a citizen asked, "Why can't 2 people be at the same place at the same time once a week? It's not like you are killing animals 3 times a day or something." She also stated, "They can make it work if they want it to work." No truer words have been spoken. The real question is how much time is it going to take to drive to Butts County, sit and wait for the animal to be euthanized or return and go back, and then bring the animal back to be cremated? The animal is first euthanized and then cremated to dispose of the body. All this is now done in Butts County. If Jasper gets a crematory will they also have 2 certified people to euthanize the dogs? The costs and questions go on and on, but are never presented in full to the BOC.

It's more about excuses as to why we need another employee, rather than using employees that may not be doing anything (such as 2 employees that have come back from leave but have been replaced by others). Instead of sitting in an office goofing off all day, they could be answering the telephone and sitting at the AC shelter assisting people that want to retrieve their dogs or look at one for adoption. This is another solution to part of the problem! After 3 or 4 times discussing this over the past several months, the County Manager has finally suggested a Public Works employee would work so many hours a week at the AC shelter. This is at least a start on the problem. If the BOC presses him, the County Manager might be able to come up with more ideas other than hiring more people.

The latest report submitted to the BOC by the AC office stated that the County has spent $11,840 to Butts County for storage and doing away with animals since May 1. The AC officer has received approximately $1150 of overtime since May 1. The report was dated September 12. This means that AC officer makes less than $300 per month in overtime; yet all we hear about is how we can hire a part time person and save money. Can the county really hire someone part time and pay them less than $300 per month? The report then goes into the usual rhetoric of how serious our AC problem is and why we need a crematory. This is what every report submitted talks about-a crematory. A crematory is obviously THE solution to all our AC problems according to the AC supervisor and the County Manager in reports given to the BOC during their meetings.

During the meeting there were some statements made that seemed unusual at the time.

Comm. Bernard made a statement that he "wants to support the AC officer." He stated, "I don't want her to leave. She's doing a good job." The reason this statement is unusual is because rumor has been out for over a week that the AC officer turned in her resignation 2 weeks ago and her last day will be this Friday. Did Comm. Bernard know this when he made these statements? The AC officer, Elizabeth Rolfe, has already resigned once, been hired back, and threatened to resign again if she didn't get land rezoned for her kennels. She didn't get the rezoning. Sources tell us that Raymond Rogers says he won't take the AC job. Why not? He's certainly been doing it all along in recent months.

The continuing talk is that people want animal control, but they want someone who answers calls and takes care of problems. Most people don't feel that is being done. Many people feel the AC officer and her "supervisor" Mr. Rogers spend time picking up any animal they see. The County Manager and BOC don't think this is true. I was recently called and told about the AC officer and Mr. Rogers driving up a citizen's driveway, going to the back yard where their dog was tied up, and looking around. The citizen asked what they were doing, and she was told that they were just checking to see if the dog had food and water. Is this proper? Was there a complaint lodged or was this just a random act of kindness by AC to check on the dog? Can AC employees go on anyone's property at any time if there is no complaint? This is the type of activity people have a problem with-many see it as trespassing on private property. All the while people calling in with complaints are ignored.

The BOC and the County Manager think that there are just a few people that complain and they don't need to listen. If you have had problems or know someone that does, a call needs to be made to your commissioner. His number can be found on our website at www.taxdogs.com/commissioners.htm.You can also call the County Manager at 706-468-4900.

The BOC has asked for all associated costs of a crematory so they can make decision. They want specific numbers so they can get an idea of what the cost really is and will be. This is good and hopefully the correct numbers will be forthcoming. Animal Control is necessary, but so is supervision and proper handling of complaints. It's up to the BOC to see that it happens.

TWG
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