Following the embezzlement charge against Animal Control Officer Michelle Smith in September, the Wexford County Animal Shelter has been operating with limited hours. Currently, the shelter staff consists of full-time Animal Control Officer Jessica Williams and a part-time shelter attendant. Williams is often called out of the shelter to handle dog-related issues, leaving the part-time attendant and volunteers to attend to the shelter and the visitors as well as the dogs and cats.
Smith was arrested on embezzlement charges and was arraigned in October. Lieutenant Denison, who oversees operations at the Shelter, did not return calls to Pet Friends Magazine concerning the status of when they’ll be hiring an officer to replace Smith. There is no current job posting for an Animal Control position on the county’s website; however, there is an Animal Control millage in place that covers the cost of staff, supplies and the operation of the shelter.
Judy Nichols, a long-time volunteer at the shelter, an administrator for the Wexford County Shelter Shares page and an incoming County Commissioner, agreed to talk about the shelter’s hours and recent changes.
Nichols explained that the community can still turn in strays when the shelter is not open to the public. She recommends that they call the Wexford County Sheriff Department’s Central Dispatch number at 231-779-9211. Stray dogs who are dropped off to the staff at dispatch will be placed in the kennel of the Animal Control truck. The truck is moved into the garage when heat is available and the dog is provided food, water and a blanket (if needed). Someone from Animal Control then transports the animal to the shelter the next morning.
Volunteers have been doing some extra work at the shelter to help out including walking dogs, socializing pets, tidying up kitty kennels, and meeting with visitors. The volunteers are allowed to interact with adopters including helping with meet and greets, giving histories on the pets and answering phone calls. Trustees have not be utilized at the shelter for at least four months.
Because space is often limited for cats, there is sometimes a waiting list for owner surrenders to bring cats into the shelter. The average maximum time on a waiting list is about 10 days according to Nichols. It will vary depending on how many cats are adopted during business hours.
Hours for the rest of the year are posted here. You can keep up to date after the first of the year by checking this Facebook page or calling the shelter at 231-779-9530.