02/16/07 — Smith: New director's age a non-issue

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Smith: New director's age a non-issue

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on February 16, 2007 1:52 PM

In only his first week as the county's animal shelter director, some Wayne County's commissioners are being asked why they hired a 21-year-old.

But many of the commissioners said the choice to hire Justin Scally was not their decision.

"I believe the county manager has the authority to hire and fire who he sees fit," Commissioner Atlas Price said.

County Manager Lee Smith announced last week that he hired Scally to oversee the proposed $1.5 million animal shelter scheduled for construction some time this year. Scally, who began on Monday, will be paid $40,466 annually. He will also be charged with overseeing the construction as well.

Since the money to pay for Scally's salary was budgeted last summer, the commissioners gave Smith the administrative authority to conduct interviews with Human Services Director Sue Guy and commission clerk Marcia Wilson to find the right candidate.

"They conducted the interviews, and they were impressed. If they say he's the person, I'll go with that," commission chairman John Bell said.

Smith defended his decision on hiring Scally saying that he was the most qualified and the most energetic person who applied.

"He's had some animal control experience, but what most impressed us with Justin is that he developed a volunteer program at his last job. He came highly recommended by the Humane Society, which is impressive. He has a lot of the certifications needed and taken a lot of the courses like animal cruelty investigations," Smith said.

He added that he understands people might be concerned about the county hiring such a young man for the position, but Scally just happens to be the best person for the job.

"Just looking at him, he looks very young, but we were all impressed by his maturity," Smith said.

Scally said his age should not be an issue.

"Age has nothing to do with it. I think it has to do with experience, the passion and the drive I have," Scally said.

He added that he is committed to making an animal shelter that is well-known in the community and that the public wants to get involved in.

As more people learn about responsible pet ownership, Scally said he believes community outreach will increase the amount of volunteers and the adoption rate.

Despite his age, Scally is certified to conduct euthanizations via sodium pentobarbital injection, which is the method that will replace the existing use of carbon monoxide chambers.

He also received training from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Emergency Planning for Animal Control and he is trained to handle injured, aggressive, rabid, domestic, wild and exotic animals. Scally also received his animal behavioral therapy certificate from the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine.

His previous job experience includes working as a veterinary technician from 2000 to 2004 and then as an animal control officer for the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Millersville, Md., beginning in September 2004.

According to Scally's resume, he also served as the director of Anne Arundel County's animal response team and coordinated the county's domestic violence pet support, animal control volunteer and community outreach programs.

Smith said Scally's job description includes making policy improvements to the existing animal shelter that can then be implemented at the new facility.

The commissioners haven't made a final decision, but have hinted that the county wants to build a new animal shelter on county-owned property near the Goldsboro-Wayne Municipal Airport.

The floor plan, created by contractor Walter Vick and LSV Partnership Architects, call for a 11,500-square-foot facility. The existing facility, which was built in 1956, is about 1,150 square feet.

Other improvements Scally said he plans to initiate include developing a community outreach program, increase animal ownership education efforts, the certification of animal control staff in conducting euthanizations and other staff certifications.