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"IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE"
Wise County Animal Shelter
Recently, questions have arisen concerning the policies, practices, and procedures at the Wise County Animal Shelter. I would like to take a moment to address my initial plans for improvements within this department.
Several years ago, Animal Control was moved under the umbrella of the Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control Officers fall into a chain of command that ultimately leads to the Sheriff, like any other deputy, jailer, or dispatcher. The Animal Shelter was left as a stand-alone department under the direction of Cathy Sides, with Mrs. Sides reporting directly to County Judge JD Clark. With the passing of Mrs. Sides in early 2023, the animal shelter was moved under the direction of the Sheriff’s Office. Since that move, many former volunteers have expressed concerns with procedural changes that have occurred and a shroud of secrecy under which the shelter appears to be operating.
During my tenure as Chief of Police of the Decatur Police Department, I had the privilege of working with the late Cathy Sides when she was Animal Control/Shelter Director for the City of Decatur, as those functions within the city fall under the leadership of the Police Department. During that time, our shelter worked with volunteers and rescue groups to provide the best possible outcome for animals in the custody of the shelter, and worked to ensure that safety of those animals in our care. When Mrs. Sides moved to become Director of the Wise County Animal Shelter, I made the decision to consolidate Animal Control/Shelter functions by signing an agreement with Wise County to care for animals that would have previously been the responsibility of the City of Decatur. Part of the reason for this contract was based on my personal acquaintance with Mrs. Sides because I knew of her ethics and care for stray and owner-surrendered animals.
An area’s “quality of life” is taken into consideration when decisions are made by businesses and people to move into an area. In addition to things like schools, churches, and parks, how an area treats its homeless pets is considered as part of the overall “quality of life”. As Sheriff, I will do everything in my ability to ensure the Animal Control and Shelter divisions lead this area in function and reputation. By research and comparison to other agencies of comparable size and population, I will ensure Wise County:
-Has the necessary number of Animal Control Officers to function efficiently;
-Has the necessary number of Animal Shelter employees to ensure the compassionate care of animals in their custody;
-Has the correct sized facility, necessary number of kennels, and appropriate quarantine area to prevent the spread of disease to healthy animals;
-Has open shelter hours on weekends to facilitate adoptions;
-Works with rescue organizations to help find homes for animals at the shelter;
-Utilizes the many volunteers that are now being turned away from helping;
-Does everything within its power to see animals adopted and rescued rather than euthanized; and
-Attempt to return the shelter to the “low-kill” standards adopted by Cathy Sides during her time as Director rather than the direction in which it is now headed.
I look forward to any comments you would like to provide and will attempt to answer any questions about animal control and shelter functions you would like to ask.
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