DOBSON — The Surry County Board of Health has approved changes to the county’s animal control policy that will effectively open the doors for local animal control officers to work with animal rescue groups, and they’re even offering a way to save them some money.
During its meeting last week, County Manager Chris Knopf told the county Board of Commissioners that the health board has approved a placement partner agreement, going so far as to provide a way to waive fees for partner groups who work with the shelter.
“They have added a stipulation that after working with the shelter for one year, a $30 annual fee can be waived in the future,” he said.
The action came following the Health Board’s approval of the policy on March 11.
The new policy was put in place following a meeting between the two groups that was scheduled as a sit-down to work out their differences.
Following years of dysfunction between animal advocates and shelter officials, Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Harris said during the meeting that a whole lot of people spent countless hours working on a policy that could end the discord.
It is an effort that Samantha Ange, director of the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, has said could herald a new working relationship between the two groups.
“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 said.
Noting that the policies are a “work in progress,” Ange said that the shelter is counting on rescuers to continue to reduce the number of animals put down in the county.
According to the new rescue policies and procedures put in place by the health board, the animal shelter will work with any rescue group who can prove they are a 501(c)3 (non-profit organization), or has been approved by either the state or federal Departments of Agriculture.
The proposed requirements mandate that in order for a rescue group to be able to take animals out of the shelter for adoption, they must:
• Provide proof of their non-profit status, or licensure by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the North Carolina Department of Agriculture;
• Have an approved placement partner application and agreement on file with Surry County Animal Control;
• Provide the animal shelter with the names of individuals who will be representing the rescue group and are authorized to remove animals from the county shelter on behalf of the group.
But animal shelter officials say first choice when it comes to adoption will still be offered to individuals and families wishing to adopt.
“It is the policy of Surry County Animal Control to offer to the general public the first choice to select an animal for adoption,” the proposed language reads. “Placement partners may be contacted if an animal is not acclimating to the shelter or is in immediate danger of being euthanized.”
Any group rescuing an animal from the shelter will be required to pay the $30 per-animal fee and any medical expenses incurred while at the shelter. “After a period of one year working with an established placement partner, some fees may be waived, with the exception of the rabies vaccine expense,” the policy reads.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.