JONESBORO — Clayton County Animal Control officials said they have not prohibited an animal advocate group from working at its facility.
Partners for Pets has worked with Animal Control for more than two years — during which time Clayton County police Chief Greg Porter has asked the advocate group to sign a memorandum of understanding. The memo releases the county facility of any liability should there be an accident or dog bite. Additionally, the document explains the rules and regulations any volunteer must abide by to work at the facility.
”We’ve been going back and forth with them (about signing the memorandum) and we tried to be diplomatic with them,” Porter said. “We’re at a point where we can’t do that anymore. We have to abide by the law.”
Resolution 2014-149 was officially adopted by the Clayton County Board of Commissioners June 17, requiring all volunteers and vendors at Animal Control to sign the memo.
Porter said Partners for Pets refused to sign the memo and left the property. The group worked from a building next to Animal Control.
“We never told them to leave, we just needed to formalize the agreement,” Porter said. “We can’t function on a handshake — this is government. It’s my job to protect the interest of the county and the integrity of the center.”
Capt. Andre Jackson is commander of Animal Control. He said that signing the memo protects the county and the volunteers.” Jackson has been with CCPD for more than 18 years and took over Animal Control a few weeks ago.
Porter said every volunteer and vendor throughout the police department, no matter where they’re working, must sign some form of the memo.
“Anybody that we’re dealing with must sign the agreement,” he said.
Maria Dorough, co-founder of Partners for Pets, said her group refused to sign the document because they’re not citizen volunteers.
“We’re an advocate group,” she said. “If we see something, we need to be able to report it.”
Dorough said she is a liaison between Animal Control and rescue groups.
“We’re a non-paid vendor,” she said.
Dorough said she reached an agreement last November with Animal Control’s previous administration.
“We signed a contract and liability statement, we thought we had worked out an agreement,” she said.
Porter and Jackson said they would welcome the group back with open arms if they agree to sign the memorandum.
“The situation is unfortunate regardless of how you look at it,” Jackson said. “It’s the welfare of the animals that should be priority.”