Interim director takes top job at local shelter
By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 24, 2009 1:46 PM
Vicki Falconer is Wayne County's new animal control director. She has been the acting operational director at the Animal Adoption and Education Center since June.
More education, increasing the number of animal adoptions and promoting the county's spay and neuter program will be among the top priorities of Vicki Falconer -- the county's new animal control director.
The position had been vacant since June when Justin Scally left to take a job with the Humane Society of the United States. Mrs. Falconer, who was appointed to the post this week, had been serving as acting operational director at the Animal Adoption and Education Center.
"Though we interviewed candidates from around the state, and even the country, we chose Vicki because we believe she is committed to the well-being of the animals and understands the needs of the community as well," County Manager Lee Smith said. "We look forward to moving forward in our efforts to reduce the number of animals coming into the shelter each year, as well as increasing adoptions."
The appointment was welcomed by the Wayne County Humane Society.
"We are very pleased with the choice of Vicki," Wayne County Humane Society President Barrett Parker said. "She was a valuable resource when she was working with Justin. She is very involved in the humane treatment of animals and education, which is one of our main missions."
A native of Pennsylvania, Mrs. Falconer moved to Wayne County in 1998 when her husband, Master Sgt. Brian Falconer, was stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. They have two children, Zachary, 13, and Ashlee, 11, and three dogs, Izzy, Freddie and Gizmo, the last two of which were rescued from the local center.
She said her husband has two years left in the service.
"Our plans are that we are not going anywhere," she said. "We will be staying here. This is home for both of us. We fell in love with Wayne County. You'd have a hard time getting me back to Pennsylvania with all of that snow."
Mrs. Falconer said she is honored to have the community's support. She said she also has her family's support. For example, this past Saturday her husband and children participated in a pet fair held on base.
"They walked dogs all over the base trying to get them adopted and we actually had five adopted," she said.
Mrs. Falconer began working for the county in the Health Department in 1999. She worked in the family planning area and was a team leader for six years before taking the job as administrative assistant in animal control that opened shortly after Scally had arrived.
"I'd always had a love for animals, so I took the initiative and applied for the position," she said. "I was raised in the country, so my parents always had dogs. I can remember the first year I asked for a kitten. I got a little white kitten for Christmas that had a big red bow around its neck. I was probably 7 or 8 years old."
Moving to animal control was a "really a great step for me," she said.
Mrs. Falconer said she enjoyed getting involved with the community and the education aspect of the program and trying to adopt out the animals that come in.
"I was looking for something with a little more growth and little bit more education wise," she said. "Basically I did bookkeeping, daily paperwork. Slowly I went into working more with Justin. I went to all of the investigations.
"I loved it (serving as interim director), every aspect of it. It gave me more knowledge about the supervisory aspect of here. I had some supervisory background through my work at the Health Department."
However, she said that unlike Scally that she does not plan to be deputized, but rather leave that part of the work to the Sheriff's Office.
"I worked on getting the volunteer program established that Justin had been working on and I did get it up and got some volunteers," she said. "I have some fosters. Basically I have been just trying to look at other ways to get the community involved and try to raise my adoption rate some."
One goal, she said, is to keep adoptions where they are at or increase them some.
"We are getting a lot (of animals) turned in right now," she said. "I don't know if the economy has anything to do with that."
That, she said, is where the spay and neuter program could help by reducing unwanted litters of puppies and kittens.
"I don't want them (adoptions) to drop any, so I want to do whatever I can do to keep adoptions up. The best thing about the job is seeing the animals get adopted. When you see them going to good homes, that helps to counteract the bad times."
Mrs. Falconer says the hardest part of the job is putting the animals down.
"That doesn't get any easier," she said.
"I'd like to get out and do more education on it (adoptions)," she said. "Go in the schools more, having some classes here -- trying to get the community to come in and learn more about adopting an animal and what really is needed to take care of it. The children are our future and maybe they can make the difference with how our animals are treated.
"People come in and see a puppy. They want that puppy, but they don't know how to take care of it. I really wish we had the time to meet with prospective adopters and make sure they really are prepared for that new dog they just selected. Some people decide they want a dog, but a few months later they are bringing it back because it chews up things and they don't know how train it."
The shelter is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on the third Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
To volunteer or join the foster care program call 731-1439. Applications are available on line waynegov.com and click on animal control link or people may stop by the center on Clingman Street to pick one up.