By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
County alters animal control
Placeholder Image

After going through two directors of the animal control department in a year, Effingham County commissioners have decided to do away with the position.

Commissioners approved by a 5-1 vote to reconstitute the animal control office, with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office handling enforcement matters and a new system in place for the shelter.

“We’ve tried a lot of different things over the last eight years, seven years,” said Commissioner Verna Phillips. “It seems like it’s always a problem. If they think this helps, we ought to try it.”

Commissioner Reggie Loper initially motioned to deny the recommendation to restructure animal control but it failed for lack of a second. He eventually voted against the measure.

“This is going to be more costly doing it this way than if we hired a director and put it back the way we had it to start with,” he said. “For myself, I think we need to stay where we’re at. If we have to, we need to up the salary for the director of animal control.

“I don’t think it needs to be connected to the sheriff’s department. I think we’re asking for trouble at the very beginning.”

County human resources director Rushe Hudzinski Sero said the two deputies would be paid at a higher rate but the county would offset that by eliminating the director and administrative assistant position.

The two positions remaining would be shelter manager and an additional fulltime employee. Interns, who would be part-time employees, will assist with shelter management.

“Our hope is to streamline one section with citations in the courts and then realigning to more of a shelter manager on the other side where staff is concerned,” she said.

Interns could handle those positions, and Ogeechee Technical College’s veterinary technician program could be tapped as a resource.

The animal control department currently has one employee, an administrative assistant, County Administrator David Crawley said.

“However you address the problem, you’re going to have to increase the salaries of the officer positions themselves to try to bring people with a law enforcement background,” Crawley said. “Every community around us already has that. They have the training. They know how to handle court. They are POST certified.”

The sheriff’s department is helping now with enforcement, Crawley said, and the county is appreciative of the assistance.

“We have a very large county to cover,” he said.

The animal shelter also gets about three to five inmates to help with such tasks as cleaning out the kennels, according to Crawley.

Crawley called the moves a beginning and said it could take several more employees, including at least one more on the enforcement side, to address the issues.

“We have a major problem with animal control in this county,” he said.

Commissioners will address the salaries and the needed budget amendments later.

“This seems to be the right direction if we are going to get quality control, consistency in staff and standard operating procedures,” said Chairman Dusty Zeigler.

“I think staff is trying to improve the service to the community, and I think this is something we should try,” Phillips said.