Goldsboro animal control officers have historically handled calls about unwanted, abandoned and abused pets in the city, but efforts are underway to transfer the responsibility to the county.

Wayne County's four animal control officers started providing the service inside the city limits earlier this year, on an informal, trial basis.

"I think it's worked very well for us," said Goldsboro Police Chief Mike West. "Citizens now have (24-hour, seven-days-per-week) animal control. It helps us where I don't have police officers responding to animal control calls."

The idea to transfer service came shortly after the city's animal control officer, based out of the police department, retired. Mel Powers, Wayne County's emergency services director, contacted city leaders about the possibility of county animal control workers providing service in Goldsboro, West said.

Prior to the change, the city's animal control officer worked a regular weekly schedule, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with weekends, nights and holidays off. When the officer wasn't at work, the police department's fleet maintenance supervisor and police officers handled animal control calls, West said.

Wayne County animal control officers are still providing service in the city, and the trial period has shown leaders the change can offer benefits.

"I think it is a good solution for our city and residents," said Scott Stevens, city manager. "It's (an opportunity to provide) better service and it frees up our police officers.

"Quite frankly, patrol officers need to be patrolling."

An agreement will be drafted for potential approval by the Goldsboro City Council and Wayne County Board of Commissioners. Members of the city council did not oppose the change, during a recent work session discussion.

The agreement will include the city paying Wayne County $70,000, with a 1 or 2 percent inflationary increase, each year, West said. The document will include a 90 day opt-out clause, in case either party decides to end the agreement.

The annual cost is close to what the city of Goldsboro has been paying for animal control service, with one officer's salary and benefits totaling $57,270. The city's animal control vehicle is in need of a new animal compartment due to a requirement that it be temperature controlled.

If the county formally takes over service, another animal control officer and vehicle will be needed, Powers said. The officer and vehicle purchase are contingent on an agreement being reached between the city and county, Powers said.

The change will also lead to an updated animal control ordinance that includes the same rules for the city and the county, Powers said.

County officials also plan to seek a common set of ordinances for the entire county, which includes its municipalities, where the county provides animal control coverage.

Providing service in Goldsboro would bring benefits and improve efficiencies, Powers said.

"I think it's going to be a benefit to the city of Goldsboro and the county," he said. "If everything goes through and we proceed with taking coverage of animal control, I think it's going to benefit us (by) being able to have continuity with the officers, shelter and just policies in general.

"Animal control is not something we take lightly, and we'll continue to give the best service to the citizens."

Animal control officers serving Wayne County respond to calls involving domestic animals, including cats and dogs, as well as livestock, said Wayne Benton, shelter manager at the Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center, on Clingman Street.

The shelter takes in between 400 and 500 animals per month, on average, Benton said. Close to one third of the animals the shelter receives each month are from the city of Goldsboro, he said.

While city animal control officers previously responded to calls involving foxes, raccoons, opossums and snakes, Wayne County officers do not. N.C. Wildlife resource workers handle calls involving wild animals in the county, and that service would be included within the city, Powers said.