Animal Control is one of the first agencies that is getting a hard look. Director Jason Broome has already provided the board with information about the department’s role and how it’s being accomplished.
“Our strategic commitment is to public safety by controlling the stray population,” Broome said. “We also try to provide comfortable temporary shelter for those animals and use our resources to place them through adoption or rescue.”
Three officers answer an average of 494 calls a month, he said, and — along with an administrative assistant — staff the shelter on Mathis Road from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. There’s also someone on call 24 hours a day to handle injured or vicious animals after hours.
“We couldn’t do everything we do without our volunteers,” he said.
The Rome-Floyd County Humane Society pays for the strays’ first round of vaccinations and worming, and ARF, the Animal Rescue Foundation of Rome-Floyd County, also helps out with medical bills.
Paws for a Cause also raises money for improvements, such as an electrical upgrade that finally allowed for air conditioning in the wing that houses cats.
A storage room also was recently converted to 12 quarantine cages via a $6,000 award from the County Commission. Using inmate labor and keeping close tabs on expenses, the department kept the cost down to $4,200.
“The old quarantine area was acceptable to the (Georgia) Department of Agriculture, but it was a constant source of complaints from rescue groups and it wasn’t really sufficient for the animals,” County Manager Blaine Williams said.
Still, the 25-year-old facility is in dire need of replacement, possibly through a special purpose, local option sales tax, Broome said. It handles far more animals than originally envisioned, and the addition of rescue activities to the old catch-and-dispose model also has strained resources.
Rats infesting the building keep chewing up the insulation, Broome said, and cleaning the cat cages is difficult because they’re so old that they’ve fused together.
Assistant County Manager Noah Simon said many communities are putting their shelters in more visible areas, often in conjunction with dog parks, to shift the focus toward adoptions.
“The old school thinking was to keep them out of sight,” Broome agreed. “The new school thinking is to bring them to the front. But it depends on how proud the community is of its shelter.”
County Commissioner John Mayes said it’s time to start thinking about modernizing local animal control operations, although it may not happen in the coming year.
“I know the economy isn’t good right now, but it’s something we need to put on our radar,” Mayes said.
There are 30 dog cages and 36 cat cages in addition to the quarantine units.
Broome said an average of 57 dogs are impounded each week and 45 are adopted. Cats have a worse fate, with a weekly average of 49 impoundments and 13 adoptions.
The department’s new adoption policy, however, could have a small positive effect over time. Broome said people who adopt an animal are automatically issued a citation for failing to neuter and vaccinate their pet. Once they bring in the certificates from a veterinarian, the citations are shredded.
“We’ve had no complaints and 100 percent compliance. It’s the most efficient way,” he told the board.