Stanly Commissioners Discuss Allegations Against Animal Humane Services – The Stanly News & Press
Public concerns about Stanly County Animal Protection Services (SCAPS) were brought to county commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting.
Shelter volunteer Kathryn Russell said in public comments “the SCAPS community would like to see three full-time shelter staff members who have outstanding backgrounds and experience, one of them being our current director, receive an offer to stay and a raise.”
SCAPS Director Jana Aviles recently handed a letter of resignation to Sheriff Jeff Crisco after serving nearly two years in the role. In a recent interview with The Stanly News & Press, she detailed her reasons for leaving, including personnel issues.
Russell also asked the Sheriff, who is in charge of SCAPS, to assign three deputies to the shelter, with the understanding that they are “committed to the shelter with exceptions for extreme emergencies only”.
Angela Laws, who operates a cat rescue center in Oakboro called Killer Kitties, submitted written comments which were read aloud by Russell.
In the statement, Laws responded to a Facebook comment from Board Chairman Tommy Jordan, who suggested taking the shelter manager’s salary, increasing it slightly, and splitting it into two positions that would directly respond to the deputy in charge of SCAPS.
She cited standards from the North Carolina Animal Welfare Act and the state Department of Agriculture stating that animal sitters “operate under the supervision of a superior with animal husbandry experience.”
Laws stated his belief that “no one close to (the) commitment to our 95% live stream rate will even apply” for the reduced amount.
She further stated that her understanding of the commissioners-approved fifth SCAPS assistant position would help in the kennels, which she said she had never seen happen, as well as her belief that other volunteers would agree.
Laws praised Aviles for her “unparalleled performance”, saying the county cannot afford to lose her when her resignation takes effect on September 16.
Commissioner Peter Asciutto, giving a briefing report to the board and the public on his findings regarding SCAPS, said he assumed Aviles was in charge of the entire department, when in fact she was only in charge of the shelter.
“So she basically had no control over the deputies that worked in the department,” Ascuitto said.
Asciutto said he offered to allow the sheriff or someone from his office to respond in person at the meeting, and was told the department “didn’t intend to have anyone.” one here to discuss it”.
County Executive Andy Lucas chimed in, saying Crisco said he was “not going to discuss personnel matters in open session because it’s not appropriate.”
In the 20 months since the sheriff’s office took over animal control, Asciutto said, the percentage of live releases rose from 62.2% to 93.9%.
Repeating repeatedly that he was not trying to throw the sheriff or the department “under the bus,” Asciutto said Crisco and his deputy chief both received 6.5% raises. The two raises, which Asciutto said were $5,233 and $4,384 for the sheriff and deputy chief, respectively, total $9,617.
At the same time, Asciutto added, health department director David Jenkins’ salary dropped 6.5%, or $7,032, when the change was made to move animal control under the responsibility. from the sheriff’s office.
The shelter hours have also changed. After being open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, the shelter is now open from noon to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and the fourth Saturday of the month.
Asciutto said he was concerned as hours were reduced, but the sheriff’s office budget was increased by $153,000 to cover SCAPS operating costs.
He said he had spoken to volunteers who said MPs were not in the office in the afternoons to help feed animals or do paperwork.
Asciutto said changes have been made to the chain of command where a sergeant will have an office and be under cover. Shelter deputies will respond to this officer. He said he understood SCAPS deputies were “going to be for animal control and not doing anything else with the sheriff’s office.”
Lucas said SCAPS’ budget has increased by $150,000 “since the sheriff’s office took it over.” He said the department fired an officer and put a sergeant in the job, and let the adoption rescue coordinator job go and created the shelter coordinator job. The board previously approved a pay raise for the shelter’s new coordinator.
Lucas said salaries have increased SCAPS’ overall budget, while funds for new vehicles and cages as well as other operational costs have also increased the budget. He said that previously the department had three deputies, a sergeant and the coordinator, but now another APS officer has been approved with the recent budget. Lucas said the sheriff’s office reassigned a part-time position from the courthouse to APS “because there was an opportunity to do so.”
“Essentially, you’ve had five and a half positions (at SCAPS) for over a year now,” Lucas said.
Lucas said he could not speak when the deputies were at the shelter, saying they worked at the shelter when animal control was under the Department of Health. He said he couldn’t speak to the current situation with animal control under the sheriff’s office.
“It’s the sheriff’s operation. I don’t have autonomy over the sheriff,” Lucas said. “I work with the sheriff in terms of the budget…but I have no operational control over the sheriff’s office.”
Commissioner Bill Lawhon said the county “funds sheriff, animal control as part of its budget. The sheriff is in charge of animal control and deputies. It’s not our job to make management decisions for the sheriff. The sheriff is the highest elected official in this county. Voters nominated the sheriff.
“The sheriff is in charge of the animal shelter,” he added. “The commission is responsible for ensuring that we fund our ministries. We don’t make the management decisions.
No motions or actions were taken by the Board of Directors regarding SCAPS.