Guilford County Animal Shelter offers to help run Davidson County shelter
Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.
As Davidson County commissioners and Sheriff David Grice continue to face pressure from the public to eliminate the county's use of the gas chamber to euthanize animals, commissioner Cathy Dunn introduced the partnership between Davidson and Guilford counties to her colleagues
Tuesday, Dunn met with Guilford County Animal Shelter executive director Marsha Williams and director Marilyn Greene, Davidson County Manager Robert Hyatt, Davidson County Board of Commissioners' chairman Sam Watford and board vice chairman Larry Potts. Grice was also contacted by phone during the meeting for his input.
Williams said the Guilford County Animal Shelter has offered to consult with Davidson County officials or take on the daily operations of the shelter if that was something Davidson County wanted to consider
The Guilford County shelter is a nonprofit organization, one of 17 in the state, operated by the United Animal Coalition. Up until this fiscal year, the shelter received money from Guilford County, the City of High Point and the City of Greensboro. Because the shelter is primarily a county operation, Guilford County assumed funding responsibility this year with no contributions coming from High Point or Greensboro. The budget for the shelter for fiscal year 2011-12 was just over $2 million, said Guilford County Budget Analyst Casey Smith.
Early discussion in the offer from Guilford County to run Davidson County's shelter would allow it to do so with funds approved in an annual budget by Davidson County commissioners. Any additional funding would come from fundraisers, Williams said.
Davidson County's budget appropriated $550,000 for the shelter, but that figure includes pay for animal control officers. Assistant Davidson County Manager Zeb Hanner said the shelter costs around $278,000 to operate plus an additional $19,000 annually for utilities
"We said we would be willing to do whatever the county (Davidson) would like for us to do," Williams said. "We want to do what's in the betterment of all the animals in the surrounding area.
We were approached and told about some the concerns, and we have a lot of things in place that could help Davidson County."
Guilford's shelter does not have a gas chamber, and Williams said if a partnership was formed, neither would Davidson County.
Dunn said she contacted Williams because she felt like Guilford County's shelter was one of the best in the state. She said the offer from Williams to help the county has the potential to resolve many of the issues surrounding the Davidson County shelter.
"It just really sounded like a positive thing," Dunn said. "The entire point of this thing is the welfare and the humane treatment of the animals. Here is a solution, a wonderful solution."
However, Watford and Grice both expressed concerns over relinquishing control of the county's animal shelter.
"They run a first-class facility over there," Watford said of Guilford County's shelter. "But I'd rather solve our problems ourselves." Watford said he is not opposed to considering aligning the shelter with a nonprofit organization in the future but is uncomfortable making any decision too quickly.
"I can't say I'm completely against the idea, but if you start spending more money at the shelter you have to come up with more tax dollars to fund it or more community dollars; both are in short supply," Watford said. "I don't like to do anything too fast. I'd like to study it a little bit more."
Grice raised questions over the management of the shelter and agreed with Watford that conversations over any major changes to the shelter need to slow down
"I don't know who would have control over it," he said. "So we're taking tax money and giving it to this private group, and we have no control over the supervision.
"This is what needs to be negotiated and why we don't need any break-neck timetable on this. Perhaps we can talk about this one day, but let's not run headlong into something before we have an opportunity to discuss it. You don't need to have a decision like this, which has implications for the people of Davidson County, made by a group from Guilford County. You also don't need to make a decision like this when you're hot or when you're emotional about a situation. Emotion has its place, and it might raise the debate, but we don't need to let the emotion drive the response to the issue."
Grice stressed he has followed commissioner Fred McClure's motion that was passed at the board's Aug. 9 meeting to make lethal injection the preferred euthanasia method. Grice said suspected rabid wild animals and feral animals are still being gassed but that efforts are being taken to ensure the majority of animals are being euthanized by injection.
David Bodenheimer can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 227, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.