TYLER, Texas (KLTV) — The Smith County Commissioners Court heard passionate pleas Tuesday morning from several community members concerned about Smith County Animal Control.
“We need change now,” one woman said during a public comment.
Frustrated residents and those who work and run local animal rescue operations have expressed concerns to the district judge and commissioners.
“The current shelter administration has lost support for many rescues because they have become combative and fail to promote good public relations,” said Kat Cortelyou, SPCA’s Operations Director of East Texas.
SPCA of East Texas President and Founder Deborah Dobbs was among those who spoke. Her concerns include understaffing, unused shelter space, limited shelter hours and a controversial stray dog policy.
“This department rejects all public attempts to surrender stray dogs,” Dobbs said. “The policy now is that if you feed it, water it, or put it in your car, it’s yours.”
“Taxpayers are being punished for something nice and humane, like rescuing a dog from a busy intersection or a dog dumped in their way,” Cortelyou says.
“That’s just madness in my opinion,” Pct said. 2 Commissioner Cary Nix during a later discussion of the policy. “I mean, we need to change that policy.”
Comments from community members came ahead of budget talks in which commissioners heard from Amber Greene, the county’s animal control supervisor. Among Greene’s requests for the upcoming budget: an additional employee.
“I’m asking for a full-time kennel tech position,” Greene said. “With the increase in intakes, the extra help is needed to clean the kennels and take in dogs in the afternoon.”
After Greene’s presentation, Smith County judge Nathaniel Moran noted that the animal control department had used only 89 percent of the budget last year. Moran said that while he is on board with more money for things like animal medical services, he does not support the request for another employee.
“There are solutions for some of those items,” Moran told Greene. “It’s not just about money or staff. You will have to make some changes in the operations.”
Moran’s recommendations include opening the shelter on Saturday and closing on Monday, a day considered slow for animal rescues. He also wants to revive the shelter’s use of trusted prison labor.
“Not to put you in the hot seat,” Moran told Greene. “But I do want the public to understand that we are going to support you in a reasonable way to get the job you need. You don’t get everything you want. Nobody gets everything they want. But we’re willing to take those requests, and the last three or four budget cycles haven’t had a big request to move forward with items now being presented as if we just didn’t want to do that. And that’s just not the case. “
Tuesday’s budget discussion marked the last budget workshop of the year for the province. Moran will submit a proposed budget to the town clerk in August. The proposed budget will then be voted on at the September 6 meeting of the Smith County Commissioners Court.
Smith County Commissioners Hear Concerns Over Lack of Funding for Animal Control, Manpower
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