Macon Animal Control honors local Animal Control officer


Macon Animal Control and Central Georgia C.A.R.E.S. honored Animal Control Officer Van VanDeWalker for his outstanding work last fall as the Macon Animal Control interim director.
During his period as interim director, VanDeWalker was approached by Shane Smith with the idea for a “Pardon Week,” seven days in which the “kill shelter” would go without a single euthanasia. Smith, the organizer of the Paws for Hope and Faith concert in Atlanta last February, has been actively involved in rescue efforts for Macon animals for several years.
VanDeWalker agreed to Smith’s idea, and during one week in November the Macon Animal Control shelter became the first shelter in the nation to host an official Pardon Week. The event, thanks to the promotions through social media like Facebook and Twitter and the widespread cooperation between animal rescue groups, was a great success.
“Shane promised he would get every dog out of here, and he kept his promise,” VanDeWalker said.
Once the week was over, VanDeWalker was curious to see how long the shelter could keep up the no-euthanasia streak. Together with Shane Smith, he extended the Pardon Week from seven days to seven full weeks. Helped by generous donations that began to roll in around Christmas, VanDeWalker and Smith’s efforts saved the lives of close to 70 animals from the shelter.
“It was like an automobile,” VanDeWalker said. “Shane Smith was the engineer who dreamed up the model and put the blueprint together. All I did was turn the ignition key.”
“What was so great about it was that it just kept going,” VanDeWalker added.
VanDeWalker received a commendation from Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Ga. State Senator Miriam Paris earlier in March as a recognition of his efforts and achievement. However, VanDeWalker remains humble and insists that his role in the movement was a small one.
“It’s all about the community; it’s all about hundreds of people,” VanDeWalker said. “They had a ceremony for me up in Atlanta, and there should have been a hundred names on that plaque with me.”
In other significant news for the animal shelter, reports that Dr. Christopher Grice from Northside Weslyan Animal Hospital will be officially brought on board to assist the Macon Animal Control shelter for the next three months, until it is brought under the control of Bibb County.
VanDeWalker said that he looks forward to Grice joining the staff. “He’s a great guy. We all respect him and like him a lot,” said VanDeWalker.
There are many benefits to having a veterinarian like Grice on staff. Macon Animal Control will be able to conduct spaying and neutering operations on-site, as well as undesirable but necessary euthanasias. Having Grice will mean that the shelter will have ready access to the medicines the animals might need. Additionally, the animal control officers will be able to carry pain drugs to animals that need them upon pick-up, such as dogs and cats that are rescued after being hit by cars on the highway and need something to dull the pain.