For years many Campbell County residents have complained the community is going to the dogs, literally.
With a seemingly growing population of stray dogs and cats, the topic of the county’s animal shelter has repeatedly made its way onto the agendas of commission meetings and the like.
Although the shelter, which opened in April 2005, has endured its share of negative publicity and leadership changes, Betty Crumley, recently appointed shelter supervisor, is ready to move the facility in a positive direction.
Crumley was appointed to the supervisor position by County Mayor William Baird and began work at shelter in early November 2008.
According to Crumley, her first few weeks on the job were somewhat of a challenge because the shelter was without an animal control officer.
“For the first five weeks I was here we didn’t have an animal control officer on duty. George (Moses) was out with a back injury and we didn’t have anyone to go out to pick up animals,” Crumley explained.
Since her early days on the job, Crumley reported the situation at the county’s animal shelter has greatly improved.
“The addition of animal control officer, Otis Poore, has made it possible to get more accomplished,” Crumley said.
To ensure Poore is equipped with the skills necessary to effectively do his job he recently attended a week long training at the Animal Control Academy in Atlanta, Ga. At the academy Poore not only learned the proper procedure for picking up animals, but how to deal with the public as well.
In addition to the hiring of Poore, Crumley hopes the public will notice a difference in the service provided by the shelter.
“We are committed to going out on every call we get. Sometimes we can pick up an animal and sometimes we can’t. But I believe people just appreciate getting a response,” Crumley stated.
One way Crumley said the shelter is able to accomplish the best results for the community is to develop a good working relationship with animal control officers in the local municipalities.
“We are working closely with LaFollette officer Stan Foust as well as the town of Jacksboro,” Crumley said.
Another change Crumley credits for the shelter’s increased productivity is the additional time devoted to the Jellico community.
“We are now spending one full day a week in Jellico which has made the people there much happier,” the supervisor said.
Using an aggressive approach to attack the animal control problem, Crumley said strides have already been made in some county’s most problem areas.
In November, Poore, with the help of Foust rounded up to 70 animals that had been disturbing residents in the Whitman Hollow community for some time.
No individuals were charged in the case, and Crumley attributed the excessive amount of animals in the location to misinformation regarding the shelter’s policy on euthanizing animals.
According to Crumley, while at the shelter animals are evaluated to determine if they are aggressive, aged or have serious health problems.
Animals that do not present any dangers are then made available for adoption.
“Last month we sent 120 puppies to rescue and another 15 to 20 were adopted out,” Crumley reported.
While Crumley is excited about the progress that has been made with animal control in the county, she recognizes there is still much work to do.
“We have a serious animal control problem here. Part of the problem is that no one has ever been very aggressive in working toward a solution. I have often heard people talking about the expense that was incurred to build the shelter. Now we are just trying to be good stewards of the county’s investment,” Crumley said.