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News Release June 7, 2012

From The Pocahontas Times. Commissioners tackle controversial issues during all-day meeting. By Pamela Pritt, Editor (Used by permission.)

On a 2-1 vote, the commission approved transferring animal welfare to the purview of Sheriff David Jonese, whose staff will run a county-owned shelter at Allegheny Recreational Center on Second Avenue. In doing so, the commission did not act on two bids submitted by Last Chance Animal Shelter ($45,500) at Bartow and ARC owners John Fitzgerald and J. P. Duncan ($74,400). Those bids mirrored last year's offering from each entity when Last Chance owner Sandy Mallow won the bid.

Jonese said he gave Mallow, the county's former humane officer and owner of Last Chance, a lot of credit for the work she's done in the past year, but that her location, as well as her part-time availability is becoming time-consuming and expensive.

The commission will pay ARC for utilities at a rate of $1,000 a month, since electric service for the two areas of the building cannot be partitioned. Jonese said he believed that the sheriff's department could keep the remainder of the costs like veterinarian bills, medicines and food within the county's budget of $38,000. However, the sheriff did say that he thought this proposal would allow the commission to get a true picture of costs for the future and for a baseline cost of a county-owned shelter.

Jonese said his proposal would incorporate the county's two volunteer animal welfare groups—the Pocahontas County Humane Society and the Pocahontas County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as well as defendants sentenced to the Pocahontas County Day Report Program.

Commission president David Fleming said he'd had compliments and criticisms of Mallow's performance as the animal shelter provider. ARC leases the county-owned building, which was built in the late 1960s to house Hanover Shoe Company. Since Hanover closed in the early 1990s, the building has had sporadic occupancy, but had been largely vacant until ARC came up with a business plan for it a few years ago. Two years ago, the county commission built improvements there for an animal shelter, including portable kennels purchased at a cost of nearly $5,000.

Those kennels were moved to Last Chance last year, and there they will remain.

Commissioners voted 2-1 to leave the kennels at Last Chance in an effort to keep Mallow on the animal welfare wagon. Fleming said she would never own the kennels and the county could retrieve them at any time, but for now, they would stay in Bartow. Commissioners also voted to purchase new kennels, up to 32 cat cages and more than 25 dog kennels, including one quarantine kennel, not to exceed a cost of $6,500.

Commissioner Jamie Walker, who made the motion to approve the sheriff's proposal, dissented on the planned purchase. Commissioner Martin Saffer cast the nay vote to accept the sheriff's proposal.