Both men will assume their duties on May 1, said County Administrator Dane Poe, who added that the animal shelter won't be accepting new animals until after the men are on the job. Even then, Poe said, some time will be required to completely return to normal operations as the new workers will need "time to get up to speed and become familiar with laws and regulations."
The facility stopped accepting animals when former animal control officer Wayne Martin was suspended on April 4 after an official with the State Veterinarian's Office determined that Martin was euthanizing more than one animal at a time, without separation, in a gas box. State law requires only one animal at a time in the box unless there is some form of separation, said Poe.
Animal control officers are hired by the county but supervised through the sheriff's department, and Martin was suspended while Poe and Sheriff Gary Parsons investigated the findings of the State Veterinarian's Office. Martin was terminated on April 6.
The assistant animal control officer had tendered his resignation about two weeks previously, and the county was forced to close the shelter to new animals. Staff at the county transfer station and an employee from the Experience Works program have provided care for dogs at the shelter in the interim.
Various animal welfare groups became involved, and all but five of the 30 or so dogs and puppies at the shelter have since been adopted out.
Due to the resignation of the deputy animal control officer, the Board of Supervisors had already advertised for applications for a replacement. And at the board's regular meeting last week, members agreed to schedule interviews of applicants at Monday's recessed meeting.
Poe said he and Parsons will meet early next week to begin discussions on how the new workers will be trained and scheduled to work. Poe said the men have two years to complete the state's animal control course, and he's hopeful they can be scheduled to take it this fall.
Meanwhile, Poe will be conducting some informal training for the two new employees and perhaps some volunteer workers. Poe said he will keep the public posted on what services the animal shelter will provide as soon as that is decided. He estimated it will be mid-May before operations return to normal at the facility.
He noted that the county is still responding to animal complaints, and each call is evaluated on an individual basis, especially if an animal poses a threat.
In other matters Monday the board appointed Hazel Gibson to complete the term of Bill Mallory on the Lee County Housing and Redevelopment Authority board of directors. Mallory had been appointed to the four-year term in February but declined the position due to health reasons.
Supervisors recessed the meeting until 5 p.m. on May 8 to conduct a budget work session.