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County making changes to animal shelter rules
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Changes to Effingham County’s animal control could be coming soon, after commissioners approved a new set of standard operating procedures.

Commissioners also could undertake soon a new staffing structure as well, as staff members work on new job descriptions.

“We are doing something about animal control,” county director of community relations Adam Kobek said. “We would hope the new organizational structure would improve not only the service we provide at the shelter but also create a more positive presence in the community.”

The county will extend a discount on adoption fees to rescue groups. As part of the standard operating procedure, a rescue facility would have to register with the county by application, Kobek said. They would have to provide their state license number and answer several requisite questions. If approved by the director, they would be eligible for a reduced rate.

“Typically, our rescue facilities are positive partners,” Kobek said. “They help with donations.”

The rate for adopting dogs is $45 and the fee is $35 for cats. The reduced rate for rescue group has not been determined.
Another change in the standard operating procedures is the adoption fee charged to county employees.

“This has been an issue of much debate internally,” Kobek said.

Some county employees say when they used to adopt from the shelter, the county would waive the fee, Kobek said.

“When the last director left, I stopped the process,” he said, “because I couldn’t find anywhere in writing that said county employees should be exempted from any fees.”

County employees will have the same rate to pay for adoptions as rescue groups.

The county finished the standard operating procedures, which included suggestions from two previous animal control directors and a look at the Oconee County animal shelter procedures. The veterinarian who works with the shelter also reviewed the SOPs and offered recommendations.

 “Several years ago, the board decided to split the duties of humane enforcement and the animal shelter,” Kobek said. “When that happened, the animal shelter was left with a set of standard operating procedures that were old and outdated.”

Under the new set of rules, the shelter is closed to the public Thursday from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Also, holds are no longer placed on animals.

“It is first-come, first-served basis,” Kobek said.

Also, only over-the-counter medications will be administered, unless prescribed by the attending veterinarian. The new standard operating procedures also cover such issues as what to do when an animal bites a kennel worker and how animals should be treated and cared for while at the kennel.

All kennel visitors also must sign in and be escorted by animal shelter personnel, and photographs will not be permitted inside the facility. The animal shelter also will accept only dogs and cats.

“We have had pigs, we have had cows, we have had horses,” Kobek said.

Kobek added new job descriptions are being finalized, with a director overseeing the entire operations and a kennel supervisor. A position of adoption coordinator is being added. That person, Kobek said, would be “customer-centric.” They would keep the animal shelter’s Web site up-to-date, work adoption fairs, maintain relationships with adoption groups and train other kennel staff on adoption procedures.

The proposed staffing also includes two part-time kennel assistants, and the kennel also will continue to use community service workers assigned to it.

“We would hope the new organizational structure would improve not only the service we provide at the shelter but also create a more positive presence in the community,” Kobek said.