Warren County Animal Control and Adoption Center is short staffed and feeling the sting of public criticism.
“Some people aren’t being very kind or understanding of our current situation,” said County Commissioner Blaine Wilcher. “We are doing the best we can, given the situation. We have one full-time and one part-time person and about 100 animals total to take care of. Volunteers are saving us. Without them, there’s no way we could take care of that many animals.”
Kim Pettrey, the only other full-time employee, was on medical leave until Monday, April 29. Her position with the county as the department’s director was terminated that morning.
To compensate and allow remaining staff and volunteers more time to focus on animal care, public hours for adoptions and pet surrenders were reduced from six to three days a week.
Current hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
Answering the phone or returning messages is secondary to fulfilling the needs of 100 animals.
“They don’t have the time to answer the phone right now,” said Wilcher. “The staff is taking care of what we have on hand first. Shelby (Newman) tries. When she has time to sit down and listen to messages, she does. Those are returned in order, so the message might be two weeks old. When she calls, people need to be more understanding.”
An inmate program where Warren County Jail trustees were transported to the facility to help clean and feed was halted weeks ago due to public complaints about inmates working at the facility and concerns regarding lack of supervision.
Wilcher calls the situation at Animal Control a “perfect storm” and urges people to spay and neuter.
“Animal Control is not the problem,” he said. “The problem is people not taking care of their animals. It’s easy to blame Animal Control, but we really need to blame irresponsible pet owners. We’re doing everything we can do, but we need the public to step up and do what’s right. Have your pets spayed or neutered and take care of them. I don’t think anyone wants to go back to Animal Control euthanizing animals. However, we may have to make some difficult decisions in order to get our population down to manageable numbers.”
Budget consideration is being made to hire another part-time employee.
No date has been set for advertising the open director position.