After months of hearing complaints from county residents about problems with the Animal Control Unit, Clayton County could put more money in next year's budget for the unit.
Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Crandle Bray said the county's preliminary draft of next year's budget includes more equipment and two more officers for Animal Control.
"Based on what Chief (Darrell Partain) says, that'll do it," he said.
The county will finish up work on the budget plan in the next few weeks, Bray said, and county commissioners will then have the opportunity to make changes to the budget before settling on a final version and voting.
At a meeting of the Animal Control Board Monday night, Capt. Toni Tidwell, commander of the Animal Control Unit, said the two additional officers will reduce the current officers' heavy caseload.
"We asked for three more officers and a secretary, and we got two officers," she said. "It's better than nothing."
The county had heard complaints from residents that Animal Control did not respond quickly enough to complaints, to which Animal Control responded that it did not have enough officers.
The Animal Control Board discussed another possible method of paying for even more personnel for the department.
Board member Robin Rawls said the board had been in contact with Bray about instituting an intake fee for people who voluntarily give their pets to Animal Control. But Rawls said the county has not yet acted on the board's request.
"I think we need to nudge this along," she said. "This is ridiculous. We've been talking about it for three or four months."
Tidwell estimates that a $25 fee could bring the department more than $50,000 a year.
To address another problem that board members had been complaining about for months, Tidwell said she has found a supplier willing to donate nutritious food to the county's animal shelter. Currently, the animals are given food with little or no nutritional value.
"It's a good deal," she said. "All we have to do is pay for shipping."
Tidwell said the county told her the deal would violate the county's process for bidding on services, but she is still trying to work it out.