DOBSON — With a succinct statement, Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Harris summed up a meeting that could herald the end of bickering between animal shelter officials and animal welfare advocates in the county.
“This is going to be a long process and a long journey, and this meeting is a start,” he said following a gathering between the two groups yesterday afternoon. “We’re going to do this right, and I’m glad that everyone is here around the table talking to one another and not yelling.”
The meeting between the two groups was scheduled as a sit-down to work out their differences, but coming on the heels of the announcement of a new policy that stipulates the requirements for a group to work with the shelter, it quickly evolved into a nuts-and-bolts discussion about the new working relationship.
Harris said the policy, which is expected to be adopted by the county’s Board of Health next week, was the result of a lot of effort from numerous people.
“We’ve worked hard to create a policy that will serve as a framework we can all work with and use to take this process forward,” he said. “And that’s just what I intend to do as long as I’m on this board.”
Samantha Ange, the director of Surry County’s Health and Nutrition Center, noted that the meeting was the start of a whole new chapter.
“This whole process is about us starting new policies and procedures, and those we’re putting in place are something to get us started and figure out what we have in place.”
She called the policies a “work in progress,” but noted that the shelter is counting on rescuers to continue to reduce the number of animals put down in the county.
“We’re getting great partners, many of whom are around this room,” Ange said. “For us to be able to open up that invitation and have more (rescue groups) available who we can open our doors to is a great thing.”
Contrary to previous meetings where it was hard to hear over all the shouting, yesterday afternoon’s gathering of county officials, animal control administrators and about a dozen representatives from rescue groups, was amiable and at times even convivial.
Jane Taylor, a long-time animal advocate, went as far as to praise shelter administrators, noting much higher adoption rates this year than last.
“I think the shelter has come a long way since last year, and I know how hard you all work to make a positive difference,” she said. “If we can continue to work toward spaying and neutering, add rescue groups working with the shelter and continue to increase adoptions rates it’s a win/win, especially for the unwanted animals in the county. That’s why we’re all here today. It’s a moral and ethical responsibility toward feeling, living creatures.
“And we’re here to help you in any way we can.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.