Clayton County police Chief Greg Porter answers questions posed by Commission Chairman Jeff Turner during Tuesday’s BOC meeting. (Staff Photo: Heather Middleton)
RAW VIDEO: Clayton County commissioners discuss new Animal Control staff
Watch raw video of Clayton County commissioners discussing proposed staff changes at the county's animal control facility during a pre-meeting work session Tuesday.
JONESBORO — The Clayton County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to create two new Animal Control positions.
Commissioner Michael Edmondson cast the sole vote against the measure, which passed 4-1, and even asked Chairman Jeff Turner to remove the item from the agenda. Edmondson also expressed concern about when the county’s goal of becoming a low-kill shelter was decided on and whether plans for the new Animal Control shelter reflected that.
“This is all too fluid and there’s a lot of emotion and a lot of important things we should do for Animal Control,” said Edmondson during a pre-meeting work session. “I would ask this board to consider holding this until we figure out what we’re doing and where we’re doing it and how big and all of that.”
But despite his concerns, a rescue coordinator and veterinary technician will join the staff. To help fund the positions, the Animal Control assistant commander was eliminated and officials will have to find an additional $35,023 in the budget to pay for the second position.
Clayton County police Deputy Chief Michael Register said the department is pleased with the decision.
“We’ll find the money,” he said. “We’re excited the commissioners approved the positions.”
In the legislative request, police Chief Greg Porter said the new employees were necessary to move toward the county’s goal of a low-kill kennel.
Turner said this was one of the ways the board could help Animal Control run more efficiently.
“We’re giving our employees the tools to address this and to address the needs of the community,” he said.
The coordinator’s role will be to work with rescues and adopters to find the animals new homes. The fewer animals housed in Animal Control, the less likely overcrowding will become an issue. When the facility becomes overcrowded, euthanization becomes necessary.
The vet tech will be tasked with ensuring the animals receive proper medical care.
“The medical issues will be addressed while they’re being housed (at animal control) and leave healthier,” said Register. “We’ll triage the animals and go through the vaccinations and immunizations process. If there’s a need for medical assistance above what the vet tech can give, then we’ll transport to an animal care center or have a vet come to us.”
Additionally, the vet tech will be in charge of euthanization at the kennel. Register said the tech will work under a contracted veterinarian.
“The animals will be sedated and then the drugs will be administered,” he said.
Maria Dorough, co-founder of Partners for Pets, has been outspoken about the care and rescue of animals at the county-run facility. For three years, the group worked at Animal Control acting as a liaison between the government facility and rescue groups.
The organization left in mid-July after its volunteers refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding required by Clayton County Police Department.
“This is a step in the right direction,” she said. “I’m very happy they’re getting a rescue coordinator. We want the dogs out — that’s the main goal.”
When it comes to euthanization, Dorough said she has concerns.
“We want to make sure it’s done right,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to be quite the way they think it’s going to be.”
While waiting for the rescue coordinator to come on board, officials at Animal Control have started networking with rescue groups and adopters via its Facebook page. Animal Control Commander Capt. Andre Jackson said partnerships are progressing well.
“We’re on the move with it,” he said. “Things are going pretty well and we’ve got some good collaboration.”
Jackson has been with the department for 18 years and recently took over the facility. He said Wednesday that eight dogs were rescued by early afternoon and he expected another eight to leave by the end of the night.
“We are focused directly on rescue,” he said.
To see available animals, visit www.facebook.com/ClaytonCountyAnimalControl1.
Staff writer Cailin O’Brien contributed to this article.