The board voted to recommend a list of priorities from Douglas County resident Cheryl McAuliffe to the county commission, including hiring 10 additional full-time employees “immediately.”
McAuliffe, a former state director of the Humane Society of the U.S., said a LifeLine Animal Project study recommended 11.3 people to clean and maintain the animal population it usually has. The shelter had two full-time kennel technicians to care for 247 animals in recent weeks.
“I would really appreciate suggesting to [county] commissioners we have more money, more staff,” she told board members. “I think we need to shift our priorities to living, breathing, suffering, dying animals over other issues that are not causing any suffering.”
Animal services director Bill Peacock admitted to board members the shelter had staffing problems recently. He introduced new shelter manager Frances McMillan, and said the shelter was adding two new kennel technicians beginning Monday. It also was seeking funding from a variety of sources to hire more technicians, he said.
Peacock said the county commission is considering a $1 million budget for 2014, which would be about $300,000 more than it currently receives.
McMillan said more staff would “definitely” improve conditions and improve its chances of the public adopting more shelter animals. She cited the example of shelters in more populated areas having enough staff to use temperament testing to segregate more people-friendly animals from others.
The shelter’s already-strained resources were further tested last month when its workers took 83 cats from a Slater Mill Road house occupied by Norcross-based animal rescue agency Snap-2-IT.
County officials allege the cats were being hoarded and kept in unsanitary conditions when they were seized. However, Snap-2-IT reportedly recently filed a temporary restraining order against the county, alleging the county did not have a warrant and planned to either adopt out or euthanize the animals.
Peacock said his department acted within county ordinances and did not need a warrant because the animals allegedly were being neglected. He also said shelter officials had always planned to hold and care for the cats until the courts decided the next step.
“We counted about 200 citations we could give for that one site,” he told the board.
The shelter has a capacity for 90 animals, and housed roughly 247 in recent weeks.
McMillan said volunteers are only doing “light duties” at the shelter and are not handling animals. The shelter also recently used some county jail inmates to do routine duties but can only get three or four at a time.
In response to a question about staff training, Peacock said training is being administered through videos. However, Peacock, who is also the county government’s purchasing director, said no county department has training funding in the current budget.