02/17/07 — A young hire: For animal shelter, capability is what matters

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A young hire: For animal shelter, capability is what matters

Those who are questioning County Manager Lee Smith’s decision to hire a 21-year-old to lead the new animal shelter and to supervise the construction of a new building are not off-base.

There is reason to question whether someone of that age can have had the experience necessary to lead a major project like this — and to iron out all the details necessary to not only get a brand new shelter constructed and up and running, but to establish community programs as well.

So, asking questions about Justin Scally’s qualifications is not out of line, discriminatory or in any way inappropriate.

For many county residents, this is just not another project. The animal shelter has been a place many have been ashamed of for a very long time. Many of the people who are pushing for a new facility — and better adoption and animal control policies — are animal lovers themselves, with pets of their own at home. They feel passionately about this issue and want to see the next shelter and its programs done right. The idea is to have the best facility we can afford, and then to make sure we help curb the pet overpopulation problem, while humanely euthanizing the animals we cannot place.

Those dedicated to this cause have even gone so far as to make sure there is a fund of money in place to help create those programs — another sign that this issue really matters to a lot of people.

All that does not preclude that hiring this young man was the wrong decision. It just makes questions about making sure we have the best person possible in charge understandable.

There will be plenty of time to judge whether the right decision has been made. The new shelter director deserves the chance to show us what he can do. We are anxious to see if his energy really is enough to get a new shelter and revised adoption and animal control programs off the ground.

But as we watch and wait, this community’s leadership should remember that this is not just a training ground. This county deserves a first-rate shelter built within our budget and the best possible animal control program. We have a right to expect our county’s leadership — including the commissioners — to make sure that happens.

So, we will expect all involved to keep tabs on the progress of all those projects.

In the end, all that matters is that the projects get done — and done right.

We are looking forward to seeing what our new shelter director can do.

He deserves a chance to try.

Published in Editorials on February 17, 2007 11:40 PM