06/04/06 — Commissioner says proposed animal shelter too pricey

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Commissioner says proposed animal shelter too pricey

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on June 4, 2006 2:06 AM

Wayne County Commis-sioner Jack Best said the board should not consider spending about $1.2 million for a new animal shelter, when there are many other problems that need the commissioners' attention.

"Citizens want a new animal shelter and they deserve it, but I don't believe we should spend $1.2 million. We have health care problems. We have libraries that need books. We have schools that need new facilities," Best said.

County Manager Lee Smith's recommended budget asks for additional funds for the planning and design phases of a new animal shelter later this year. The budget proposal also allocates money to hire an animal shelter manager.

Smith said the shelter manager would work with contractors during the building process and then be responsible for personnel training and volunteer and educational programs.

The shelter's cost was one of many concerns Best voiced during the board's budget work session Thursday morning.

The county's Animal Control Advisory Committee suggested earlier this week that a new animal shelter be built near U.S. 70 and Clingman Street west of the Southern Foods Market grocery store on Wayne Memorial Drive, because it provides a central location that residents could easily find.

Instead of a central location, Best said a new animal shelter should be built closer to where the animals are buried after being euthanized. This kind of location could help the county reduce transportation costs, he added.

Animal control officers are responsible for picking up stray animals throughout the county. Best said the department picks up about 125 animals per week.

Kim Wells, the animal control administrator, said animal control officers are forced to pick up so many animals because of irresponsible owners. Usually, an owner allows an animal to roam outside without a leash or buckles under the responsibility of raising a pet. Either way, once an animal is taken to the shelter, its stay is limited.

"They usually stay there for four, maybe five, days, and then they kill them," Best said.

Due to the influx of animals each week, the animal shelter euthanizes animals in a carbon monoxide gas chamber every Thursday. Euthanizations would continue at a new facility, but Dr. Stan Griffith, the animal control advisory committee chairman, said he hopes the majority would be conducted through sodium barbital injections.

Although a new facility could help increase the amount of adoptions, Best said he can't justify spending $1.2 million for "an animal palace" to replace a "dog killing center."

"You just need a nice office building, concrete, maybe a small field, some pens and a high-pressure water hose to clean out the pens," Best said.

The county was able to create a $2 million surplus this year through cutting expenditures. So, Best said, the county should spend more to improve the lives of county residents, especially children and senior citizens.

Smith said Wayne has an account of about $20,000 that residents have contributed for a new animal shelter. Best said many of the contributors have been local school children, and local animal organizations should be just as willing to give.

"Where are the people that signed that petition?" Best asked.

Since last December, Concerned Citizens of Wayne County members have spoken throughout the community and urged county residents to sign a petition for a new animal shelter. Earlier this year, Best challenged those who signed the petition to contribute $20 each to help pay for the shelter they want.

Best proposed a compromise of the county funding $700,000 for the project, allowing residents and organizations to fund the remaining $300,000.

Those who are interested in contributing can send a check to Wayne County at P.O. Box 227, Goldsboro, N.C., 27533. On the subject line, specify that the check is for the shelter fund. Smith said donations are tax-deductible.

Checks can also be sent to the local Humane Society chapter at P.O. Box 821, Goldsboro, N.C., 27533.