06/08/09 — Scally takes HSUS job

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Scally takes HSUS job

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 8, 2009 1:46 PM

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Justin Scally

Wayne County Animal Control Director Justin Scally, who just months ago worked alongside the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to clean up a puppy mill, will soon leave his job to join that organization.

Scally will oversee a HSUS task force that is so new its duties have yet to be publicly announced. Scally said he could not comment more specifically about his new job until that announcement is made.

Scally, 23, has been with the county for two years, during which time animal control moved from its dreary cramped quarters on Brick Street to a modern $2.2 million, 11,000-square-foot facility occupying almost four acres on Clingman Street. The Wayne County Humane Society worked actively on the project, raising $150,000 for the shelter.

"I will be working all over the country," Scally said. "My base will be Gaithersburg, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C., but I will be traveling across the nation."

Scally said HSUS officials contacted him about the job.

Friday is his last day with the county. He will start his new job the following week.

Scally worked with HSUS in February to clean up a puppy mill in southwestern Wayne County. The publicity from that effort helped to spark legislation to outlaw puppy mills.

Scally said he had been in contact with HSUS officials talking about cases and he was approached about the job.

"It makes me feel good," he said about the offer. "It's the nation's leading animal welfare organization. It makes me feel good that they want me to come and help them with endeavors and confronting cruelty and helping animals on a daily basis. To have the opportunity to do that all over the nation and potentially to come back to Wayne County to help with things, I think that is great."

Despite the excitement about his new job, Scally said it will be "tough" to leave the county.

"It's tough to think about all of the hard work that we have been putting in here to go from that old shelter," he said. "We were working from scratch, and we kind of built from that to where we are today. It is a lot of effort put forward, a lot of great people who worked together and the cases and the animals.

"It is tough to walk away from so much passion and drive. It is not a position that you can just have. You have to have a passion for it, a drive for it. You have to have the love for animals and also working with the community."

His new job will be about an hour away from his hometown of Baltimore.

He and his wife, Shannon, have a 1-year-old daughter, Bianca. They also have Raleigh, a beagle that was rescued from the old animal shelter.

Scally said that growing up he wanted to be a veterinarian and that at age 14 he began work as veterinary technician. When he was 18 or 19, he took a position with the county police in animal control, a job that included some supervisory work.

"I felt that on a daily basis that I could maybe influence more animals' lives, and I wanted to get more in the enforcement aspect of helping animals and saving them from their abusers than I would be able to do in a veterinarian setting," he said.

Scally, who also is a sworn deputy, said a transition team has been discussed for the selection of a new director. He said he has helped county officials look at the job description to help with advertising for the new position.

The new animal shelter and other advancements made over the past two years should help the county in its recruitment efforts, he said.

"The base work is pretty clear," he said. "You have the new shelter built, policies in place. You need someone who has leadership qualities and has a passion for animals, a passion for the community."

The job is an all-day, all-night and weekend responsibility.

"You have to be ready to go at a moment's notice," he said. "You never know when an animal will need you or the staff is in need. It is the furry faces and their bright eyes that you are here for. They need somebody to speak for them on a daily basis."

Scally said other accomplishments over the past two years include elimination of the gas chamber and implementation of euthanasia by injection. He also points to staff training, detailed standard operating procedure policies and outreach programs. Animal adoptions have increased as well.

Enforcement efforts to "knock out" animal cruelty have been stepped up, too.

"I think we have pretty much made it clear that animal abusers are not going to be tolerated in Wayne County," he said.

While much has been achieved, there are some areas he hopes the county will continue to work on including the spay/neuter program and expansion of the volunteer workers program.

"They have been started, it is just a matter of following up on them," he said. "I know that Wayne County will continue to push forward, and I hope that what we have done has set the framework for the future.

"I am happy where Wayne County has gone. I hope it continues. I want to thank everybody for their support. I am just a phone call away if help is needed."