Animal Control Departments and most Animal Shelters are government run by counties or cities. This means that the Commissioners and Sheriff have a big impact on the policies of the shelters and how many animals are saved or euthanized. The residents of Wexford County learned this in January of 2013 when allegations were raised about the misconduct of Animal Control Officers at the Animal Shelter and a subsequent Whistleblower lawsuit was file – and recently renewed in June.
In addition to voting for a new Sheriff and Commissioners, Wexford County will have an Animal Control Millage Renewal on the August 2nd ballot. In 2012, Wexford County voted for an Animal Control millage to fund their county Animal Shelter. It was a four-year millage request and asked for approximately $185,000 out of a $235,000 budget. In August, the voters will be asked to renew this millage for another four years.
Pet owners and animal advocates in Wexford County should familiarize themselves with their local politicians and their voting records as well ask asking them their opinions on the importance of their local Animal Control Department and how it operates. Pet Friends Magazine reached out to the candidates who will appear on the ballot in the August 2nd Primary election so they could speak out on their position regarding the Animal Control Department.
Running for Sheriff in the August primary are Republicans Jason Nehmer and Under Sheriff Trent Taylor. Taylor did not respond or provide any statements about his past involvement in the Animal Control Department under Sheriff Finstrom or his future plans for the Department and the Animal Shelter.
Jason Nehmer’s website talks about his “Vision Forward” as Sheriff and an overhaul of animal Control. It says, “Important changes need to occur in the area of Animal Control and the Animal Shelter. The Animal Shelter will become a low-kill/no-kill shelter. Animals will only be put down if: after a vet check, they are too sick or injured to be medically helped; or by a judge’s order to put down a vicious dog. Wexford County Animal Control officers will only pick up and drop off animals that are running loose or have been abandoned. The shelter will be operated by a volunteer group that will handle food, shelter and adoptions.”
There are several County Commissioners who have primary challengers in August. All of these Commissioners were contacted as well as their opponents. The only two candidates who responded were from District 8.
DISTRICT 8 COMMISSIONER CANDIDATE JOHN FUSCONE
Thank you for the opportunity to respond. First of all I am a firm believer in a no kill animal shelter. It is a proven fact that many shelters around the state and county have been operating under those guidelines for many years and that can be the same for Wexford County. Our shelter has made improvements and I believe it is attributed to excellent work by the volunteers associated with our shelter. I am hopeful in the near future our County Commissioners will once again look at the possibility of removing the control away from Sheriff’s department and place the control under a privatized self funded organization. I believe a group of that nature would have a better understanding of animal needs and concerns.
DISTRICT 8 COMMISSIONER CANDIDATE JUDY NICHOLS
I have had the privilege of volunteering at the Wexford County Animal Shelter for the past three and a half years. My involvement as a volunteer has been running a Facebook networking page called Wexford County Shelter Shares, socializing cats and dogs, assisting clients in meeting and adopting pets, and planning special events.
During those 42 months I have had the opportunity to witness the daily operations of the shelter.
The day to day operations are managed in a professional manner. Staff members and volunteers are helpful and available to answer any questions that our visitors have . The pets are well fed, well socialized, and kennels are clean.
We have experienced outstanding adoption and reclaim rates, and the euthanasia rate is the lowest in the history of the WCAS. (Aggressive, ill, court ordered) Our hours of operation are adequate, we are now using our spay and neuter funds to alter pets PRIOR to adoption, and our networking system reaches over 6,670 followers.
Areas of improvement , in my opinion, would be
1) additional animal control staff in the future to handle the ever growing case load
2) Expand the responsibilities of volunteers to answer the phone, make follow up calls on adoptions, and manage the front desk while staff attends to animal control business .
3) We have a dedicated group of volunteers but there is still room for more:)
4) Eventually it would be nice to have a foster program