Thomas Co. Sheriff’s Office bombarded with new animal control role
THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - The Thomas County Sheriff’s Office has some added stress after taking on animal control responsibilities. That decision had residents panicked about the state of their public safety and pets.
The change came from the Thomas County Board of Commissioners and the Thomasville Thomas County Humane Society not coming to an agreement on a long-standing contract for the humane society to take up those responsibilities.
“Our deputies are… there used to be a downtime. We don’t have downtime anymore,” said Cpt. Chuck McDonald, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office patrol and animal control commander.
The patrol team is having to answer 3-5 animal calls a day. In just one week, the sheriff’s office handles about 25 animal calls on top of the other calls they were already answering. McDonald said it doesn’t help that the agency is low on staff.
“We’re not full capacity and I don’t know that we will be for a while,” he said.
The animals that are picked up on calls are having to be taken to neighboring county animal shelters as Thomas County still works to get a county shelter established.
“Their shelters are full also with their own counties, so they’re helping us with the vicious animals right now,” he said.
So far since the start of the year, no animal has been euthanized. That’s not the goal of the sheriff’s office.
“I know initially people thought that there was something being put out that we were going to euthanize your animal after five days. That’s not the case,” he said.
McDonald said even with the added stress the county will start to see some benefits in their animal control.
“The county contract with the humane society is an independent vendor. And so we were really at their mercy at whatever they did. But we’re going to be able to provide good service a better service I think for the county,” he said.
To alleviate some stress, deputies are pushing pet owners to microchip their animals.
“Unfortunately, (with) everything that we’ve dealt with to this point in the first month of the year, we have not had a single dog that was chipped,” McDonald said.
That’s left several dogs without a home. So far this year, the department has reunited two dogs with their owner out of several lost dogs they have found. McDonald said the sheriff’s office has had to deal with an alarming lost pet rate every day and with no official Thomas County shelter for them to stay in.
Instead, he’s had to rely solely on neighboring county animal shelters. But that still hasn’t substantially relieved that added stress on the agency.
McDonald said pet owners can help by taking an extra step.
“But we can’t stress it enough, the importance of having your animal chipped,” he said.
Some rescue shelters are planning a free microchip event in March. For more information on that event, call the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office at (229) 225-3300.
WALB News 10′s Lenah Allen reached out to County Manager Mike Stephenson to see how long it would take for a temporary shelter up and running but is still waiting on a response. The Thomasville/ Thomasville Humane Society also did not respond to a request for comment.
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