Mathews residents question changes to animal control operations

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jan 23, 2013 - 01:12 PM

Three Mathews residents, speaking during Tuesday’s board of supervisors’ meeting, took issue with the way in which the county is handling its animal control operations.

Mesa Allsbrook of Hallieford, Richard Browder of Port Haywood, and Lyn Layer of North, all questioned Mathews County Sheriff Mark Barrick’s decision to remove animal control operations from his office while retaining control over dispatching the animal control officer, who is no longer under the sheriff’s supervision.

Browder said he was dismayed and disappointed at Mathews County Administrator Mindy Moran’s statement that the county would only handle issues with dogs, as the state requires. He said that, contrary to previous remarks made by Moran, there is no difference between animal control and animal welfare, since the state statute dealing with animal control is titled "Comprehensive Animal Care."

"Ms. Moran’s depiction that we will have a skimpy, bare-bones, 1950s dog-catcher-type animal control operation is not what the citizens of this county want and deserve in terms of safety, concern and compassion," Browder said. "I am certain that all reasonable people—our citizens, your constituents—reject the new animal control plan as now implemented."

While the sheriff had said he had "too much to do to contend with animal control issues," said Browder, "his dispatchers, none trained in animal control, take 100 percent of the animal control calls; and his deputies, not one certified in animal control nor with any equipment or method to safely capture, contain and transport animals, are those who respond to animal control calls 82 percent of the hours in a week."

Browder said he didn’t know why the "systematic dismantling of Mathews Animal Control occurred" and expressed consternation that the county had approved removal of over $50,000 from the animal control budget "without one word of discussion."