Police Chief Phil Smith, at right, discusses the city animal control services with the members of the city Police Committee on Monday at City Hall. The animal shelter is in the process of expanding its hours to include weekends. (Randal Seyler Photo)
Animal Control Services will soon begin opening on weekends, members of the city Police Committee learned on Monday at City Hall.
Since July, the city animal control services have been under the auspices of the police department, and Smith said the shelter has been strictly following city policy and euthanizing animals after seven days of captivity.
“Not following policy is what got us into trouble in the first place,” Police Chief Phil Smith said, referring to protests from city and national rescue groups who want the city to be more lenient in its schedule.
Prior to the July change in administration, the shelter routinely would hold animals for extra days while rescue groups found a foster home for an animal, shelter officials have said. Now the shelter strictly follows policy, which is to euthanize animals after seven days.
The animal services department has also added one officer, and plans to add one more if the position is approved, the chief said.
The weekend hours will allow pet owners more opportunities to retrieve their animals from the shelter. The city also plans on expanding hours to 6 p.m.
“I’ve experienced that myself,” City Councilor Caleb Grant said. “You get home at 5:15 and your pet’s gotten out, but by then the shelter has closed and you have to wait to the next day to go look for him.”
“I’ve been in communication with several rescue groups from around the country, their focus is definitely on Roswell,” Smith said. “They have some wonderful ideas, and their intent is fantastic, but we have to have some consistency in what we do.”
The city council will hold a workshop at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 20 to discuss animal control and the city’s policies.
Councilor and Committee Chairman Savino Sanchez asked if the city had considered contracting out the animal control services. “Do you have any idea what the cost is for the operation of animal control for a year?” Sanchez asked City Manager Larry Fry.
“No, sir, I don’t have a number at hand but I can get that information for you, it’s in the city budget,” Fry said.
“We need to all do our homework by the 20th,” Grant said, referring to the upcoming workshop.
“We need to have the city veterinarian at the workshop,” Smith said. “He is also being targeted by these groups.”
Grant said he thought the city could do a better job following through on adoptions. “The more hours we are open, the better,” he said. “It gives us more chances for adoptions.”
Deputy Chief Brad McFadin said the department is also in the process of creating a website for the animal shelter as well as a Facebook page. “The website will allow better tracking of the animals and will be open to the public, and will ultimately show the disposition of the animals,” he said.
Sanchez thanked the chief and the officers at the meeting for their work with the animal control services. “I appreciate the work you are doing,” he said. “You’re not going to please everybody, but thank you so much.”