Animal Services Board Holds First Meeting
The newly created Animal Services Advisory Board of Moore County held its first meeting Thursday as members sought to better define the agency's direction.
Orange County Animal Services Director Bob Marotto, whose department served as a model on which officials based the local organization, was the guest speaker.
"I am impressed with the initiative being shown in Moore County to develop excellent services and care for animals, thus reducing the use of euthanasia," he said. "It is exciting to see the enthusiasm around the creation of a freestanding department within the county."
Earlier this month, the Moore County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to remove animal operations from the public health department and create a separate agency for animal control. A 12-member advisory board was developed to oversee the department.
Marotto's presentation covered a wide range of topics that the animal services board will consider when adopting its own guidelines.
Board members seemed particularly impressed with the percentage of animals that are placed in homes by Marotto's agency.
"We are at 66 percent, and if unadoptable pets are removed from the equation, such as aggressive animals or fighting dogs who have been rescued, then the percentage is up to 75 percent," Marotto said. "To be honest, I can't believe what we've achieved."
At present, Moore County's numbers are almost the opposite.
"Our euthanasia numbers are at about 80 percent in Moore County," said board member Angela Zumwalt. "Although Orange County has a much larger financial investment than is in effect in this county, we have a high level of expertise, knowledge and professionalism in our board members and volunteers here. I can foresee our agency getting close to their level of success in the next five years or so."
Zumwalt said that the Orange County agency has done well in utilizing social media and other technology in getting their message to the public.
"Orange County understands the way the next generation has learned to adopt animals, such as through photos and descriptions on Facebook and through online research," she said. "It is imperative that we develop similar methods of offering this information online as a way of facilitating adoptions."
Animal Shelter manager Jerry Bodnar said that pet adoptions for 2012 were at 839 animals out of 3,926 collected by the Animal Center of Moore County. There were 2,962 euthanized in 2012.
"The euthanized numbers include sick, injured and unadoptable animals," he said, "not just adoptable ones. There is more animal surrender now than ever."
Zumwalt suggested to the board that it focus on what areas need concentration.
"Think about where each person can place their skills and expertise," Zumwalt told the board following Marotto's presentation. "We have the necessary resources and networking in this room to build teams doing what we feel we can do. We can begin to make a difference right away."
The board agreed to meet twice per month until the end of the first quarter. The next meeting is Feb. 14.
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or jlentz@thepilot. com.
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