Animal shelter welcomes new director

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After weeks of deliberation, Bibb County officials have finally released the names of the two individuals who have reached the last round of scrutiny for the director’s position at the county animal shelter on 11th Street.
The two candidates are Sarah Tenon, who has been the supervisor of an Alabama animal shelter, and Richard Rice, the former executive vice president of the Atlanta Humane Society.
County officials will not be making a final decision for another two weeks at least as both candidates are carefully reviewed for the position.
Since July, the Bibb County Animal Shelter has had two interim directors until the county could make a decision as to who could take over the shelter permanently.
Currently Steve Layson, the county Chief Administrative Officer, is filling in until either Tenon or Rice is granted the position.
Prior to Layson the county pulled in Deborah Biggs from Florida, where she has helped to improve several other shelters.
Biggs had a two-month contract with the county to come in and report any problems she saw with the current facilities.
County Public Affair’s Officer Steve Barrare said that part of the county’s logic in placing Biggs at the shelter was that they wanted someone who “wasn’t tied up in a lot of the politics” and who could look at the shelter without worrying about her future position.
According to Barrare, the county spokesman for the matter, Biggs reported back that the shelter was overcrowded and that the watering system was full of roaches and needed to be cleaned.
The actions Biggs took to improve matters at the shelter, including uprooting the infested water system and returning the shelter’s holding capacity to 60 dogs and 20 cats—the holding capacity the shelter has on record with the Department of Agriculture—drew criticism and outrage from members of the area’s animal rescue groups.
Many of those same members preferred Van VanDeWalker, a former animal control officer who also served as the shelter’s interim director, for the permanent position.
VanDeWalker was honored for the Pardon Week initiative he began last fall, which resulted in a seven-week run in which no animals were euthanized at the shelter.
However, VanDeWalker resigned from the shelter shortly after Biggs took over and reduced the holding capacity.
He applied again for the position of Animal Welfare Director, but the Telegraph reports that officials were already so far into the selection process that they were no longer accepting new applications.
The county will continue to institute reforms to improve conditions at the existing facility, but according to Barrare, “It’s a completely inadequate facility for our community and for the number of animals we have.”
Even when the shelter maintained that its holding capacity was 100 animals, it was still almost always full.
The county is moving forward with plans to build a new facility with a larger holding capacity.
Barrare estimated that the shelter should be completed within the next eighteen months.
In order to help with the problem of overpopulation within the existing shelter, Barrare recommended that people spay and neuter their pets and pay attention to licensing laws and other pet regulations.