Frustrated residents, animal rescues demand change at Smith County Animal Control
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) — Smith County Commissioners Court heard impassioned appeals Tuesday morning from several community members concerned about Smith County animal control.
“We need change now,” one woman said in a public comment.
Frustrated residents and those who work and run local animal rescue operations have raised their concerns with the judge and county commissioners.
“The current shelter administration has lost the support of many rescues because they have become combative and do not foster good public relations,” said Kat Cortelyou, director of operations for the East Texas SPCA.
East Texas SPCA President and Founder Deborah Dobbs was among those who spoke. His concerns include understaffing, unused shelter space, limited shelter hours and a controversial stray dog policy.
“This department denies all public attempts to turn dogs stray,” Dobbs said. “The policy now is whether you feed it, water it or put it in your car, it’s up to you.”
“Taxpayers are being punished for doing something nice and humane, like rescuing a dog from a busy intersection or a dog that was thrown in their way,” Cortelyou said.
“It’s just madness in my opinion,” said Pct. 2 Commissioner Cary Nix in a subsequent policy discussion. “I mean, we have to change this policy.”
The 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 demands for the upcoming budget: an additional employee.
“I’m applying for a full-time kennel technician position,” Greene said. “With the increased intake, additional help is needed to help clean the kennels and accommodate the dogs in the afternoons.”
After Greene’s presentation, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran noted that the animal control department only used 89% of its budget last year. Moran said that while he’s on board with more money for things like animal medical services, he doesn’t support another employee’s request.
“There is a solution to be found on a number of these items,” Moran told Greene. “It’s not just a question of money or personnel. You will need to make some changes to operations.
Moran’s recommendations include opening the shelter on Saturdays and closing on Mondays, a day considered slow for animal rescues. He also wants to revive the shelter’s use of the prison’s loyal workforce.
“Not putting yourself in the hot seat,” Moran told Greene. “But I want the public to understand that we are going to support you in a reasonable way to do the work that you need. You won’t get everything you want. Nobody gets everything they want. But we’re willing to accept those requests, and the last three or four budget cycles haven’t had a major request to move forward with things that are now presented as if we’re just not willing to. TO DO. And that’s just not the case. “
Tuesday’s budget discussion marked the county’s final budget workshop of the year. Moran will file a budget proposal with the county clerk in August. The proposed budget will then be voted on at the Sept. 6 meeting of the Smith County Court of Commissioners.
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