Commissioner Chairman George Brown confirmed that the board is considering the move and insists it is not a move that was not precipitated by the recent complaints the board has received from some residents or animal right activists.
“When we moved the shelter a few years ago we were having some problems in the health department and animal control,” said Brown. “The sheriff took animal control for us and the shelter just kind of went with it, we knew we were going to have to do something with it at some point.”
In 2011 at the conclusion of a messy controversy with the health department and complaints about animal control the commissioners asked Pender Sheriff Carson Smith to take the reins of the county animal control and its shelter. Sheriff Smith agreed to helm the departments, but a little more than a year later some residents and animal rights activist began complaining about the shelter including, yet to be proven, criminal allegations against some employees as well as some inhumane conditions for the animals and a higher than advertised euthanasia rate.
After months of hearing complaints, the board began considering moving the shelter back under its control. Sheriff Smith, stood behind his running of the shelter but agreed to give the shelter back to the county and the board opted to put the shelter under the control of the county manager at the beginning of the year.
Since taking over the shelter County Manager Mickey Duvall has made a few policy changes but little else until last month’s appointment of an advisory committee.
“This has nothing to do with what the manager did or did not do,” said Brown. “We knew that was a temporary fix and the manager has a lot to do including the budget, so we are now considering moving it back to the health department, which is much different now than when it was when we gave the shelter to the sheriff.”
Brown added that he has spoken to Health Director Carolyn Moser and she has said she would take the shelter back under her department if that is where the commissioners wish to place.
As for when a decision will be made Brown said he is not sure but he expects the board to address the issue in the near future.