County Creates Animal Operations Department
By JOHN LENTZ
Moore County will create a new department to handle animal control and, organizers hope, increase pet adoption rates locally.
The change, approved Tuesday night by the Board of Commissioners, will remove animal operations from the public health department and create a separate agency for animal control.
The vote followed a presentation by Angela Zumwalt of the Moore County Citizens' Pet Responsibility Committee.
The department would have its own 12-member advisory board. The changes should mean fewer animals in shelters, lower euthanasia rates, and more adoptions.
The new department will report to the county manager.
Recognized nationally for its achievements, Zumwalt said the Pet Responsibility Committee has been featured in a national publication geared toward animal trainers.
"In an article on humane education programs that appeared in 'Chronicle of the Dog' magazine, the writer said that our committee was named 'one of the leading humane education programs for children (created) to address overwhelming pet overpopulation and chronic problems of animal neglect in their county.'"
Zumwalt said the advisory board would consist of "veterinarians, veterinary technicians community animal representatives, animal control personnel and others."
Al Carter, the current director of animal operations, will serve as the head of the Animal Operations Department.
By creating a new county department, the budget for fiscal year 2012-13 was amended to redirect the funding allocated for animal operations and services from the Moore County Health Department to the Moore County Animal Operations Department.
Commissioners Chairman Nick Picerno emphasized that no financial impact would occur with the transfer.
"They are simply moving," he said. "There is no increase or decrease, and this is not creating more expense."
Zumwalt said she was "elated" following the vote.
"There was a lot of work done here in the county before us to establish the animal center," she said. "We are standing on the shoulders of those before us, and we are now moving to the next level."
Committee member Pamela Partis called the board's vote "awesome."
"We now have a real opportunity to have a greater impact on the animal population in this county," she said. "It presents an opportunity for us to become a leader in the state to increase adoption rates."
In other news, commissioners approved the purchase of a new ambulance by the Moore County EMS from Northwestern Emergency Vehicles for $177,483.
Commissioner Craig Kennedy asked if a vehicle would be "rotated out" to be replaced by the new ambulance.
"Yes," said Moore County Department of Public Safety Director Bryan Phillips. "We try to replace them after every 300,000 miles."
The county EMS has a fleet of eight vehicles. Six of those operate 24 hours a day, Phillips said, with two running 12-hour shifts.
"We have eight ambulances on the road during peak time, plus two additional quick response vehicles," he said.
Phillips said the ambulance purchase was listed on the capital improvement plan and is included within the current budget.
"It typically takes about 90 to 120 days from the time of the purchase order to receive a new vehicle," Phillips said. "This one will not be located at a specific place, but will join our rotation in place of another that has reached its 300,000 to 350,000 mileage limit."
Phillips said one ambulance is replaced per year.
The board unanimously approved the purchase.
The board also formally recognized outgoing Moore County Property Manage-ment Director Rich Smith for his "spirit of excellence" in overseeing construction of the Rick Rhyne Public Safety Center in Carthage.
"I always thought the Lord sent Rich Smith for a reason," said Commissioner Larry Caddell. "I can't begin to tell you how much money he saved the taxpayers of this county."
In a work session held prior to Tuesday's meeting, Picerno directed the facilities task force to study how county owned space will be used once the Sheriff's Office relocates to the new Rick Rhyne Public Safety Center.
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or jlentz@thepilot. com.
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