The county has received 20 applications for its permanent animal shelter director position, which officials said they hope to fill by Christmas.
The Sampson County Board of Commissioners authorized the job opening Nov. 5 and the window for applications was closed three weeks later. Lori Baxter has served in the interim shelter director position since the end of June. Assistant county manager Susan Holder said Friday the applications had not yet been reviewed. She has them, as does county manager Ed Causey, who is responsible for hiring department heads.
“A good majority of (the applicants) were from Sampson County,” said Holder. “Some were from the rest of the state.”
She said she could not disclose the names of those who had applied, and declined to state whether Baxter would be throwing her hat into the ring, again citing personnel law. She said only the applicants themselves could speak to the issue. When reached at the shelter, Baxter was also mum.
“That’s not something I want to disclose,” said Baxter, when asked whether she had applied for the permanent position.
As the county advertised for the shelter position, a local contingent of people have distributed, posted and emailed flyers urging residents “Please Support Adoption.” It states on the flyer, distributed by a number of people, that many local animal welfare groups, as well as individuals, “have had issues with animal shelter management,” stressing that the kill rate should be lower.
“The shelter has a high kill rate.” it states. “A no-kill shelter would give the county a positive image.”
Holder said it is always the goal to get animals adopted. She said there are many decision yet to be made, and those decisions for the direction of the shelter and its various programs, including implementation of trap-neuter-return and others, would come under the new director.
“We’ve said all along there are a lot of things we want to consider once a permanent director is determined,” said Holder. “It’s always the county’s position that we’d like to have the best and most qualified applicant in the position … and do our best in our endeavors to adopt animals.”
Sampson’s job posting detailed requirements of the job, including ensuring state standards for humane housing and euthanasia were met; best veterinary practices were followed; budgetary and supervision skills were present; and that “volunteer, adoption and other public education programs” were developed and overseen. The director must also be able to “deal tactfully with the general public, cooperate effectively with other agencies, including law enforcement, and effectively manage staff and volunteers,” the posting stated.
Salary range is between $32,244 and $48,348 for the position, the pay grade for which was raised at the beginning of November. The job description, however, remains unchanged from previous times the position has been open.
“The responsibilities of the job have not changed,” said Holder.
According to figures provided by Baxter, and distributed by Holder upon request by the Independent, the kill rate has dropped considerably in 2012 from nearly 90 percent all of last year.
The numbers for 2012 show that, while euthanizations have dropped by 20 percent, there is still two out of every three animals that never make it out of the shelter. The kill rate has continued to decline, with recent months showing the number of euthanizations hovering over half the total animal intake.
The Sampson County Animal Shelter took in 1,685 dogs and 1,035 cats throughout 2011, of which 102 dogs and 37 cats were adopted. An additional five dogs went to rescue organizations. All totaled, there was an intake of 2,720 animals, of which 2,419 — 1,502 dogs and 917 cats — were ultimately euthanized, an 89 percent kill rate.
Through October this year, there have been 1,423 dogs taken in by the shelter, of which 153 were adopted out locally and 328 handed off to rescue organizations. Another 11 have been adopted out of the area and six from out of state, the numbers show. Of the 930 cats taken in, 78 have been adopted locally and another nine from out of area and state. Ninety-six have gone to rescues.
Total euthanizations for dogs and cats for 2012 through October stand at 866 and 706, respectively, putting the total kill rate (1,572 euthanizations out of a total intake of 2,353), at 67 percent.
In the four most recent months available (July-October), while Baxter has been at the helm, the numbers show intakes of 666 dogs and 525 cats, of which 72 dogs and 48 cats were adopted locally. Another 26 were adopted from out of the area or state, and 356 animals — 291 dogs and 65 cats — went to rescue organizations. There were 292 dogs put to sleep, along with 358 cats, putting the kill rate (1,191 intake and 650 euthanizations) at more than half, 55 percent, but showing a lower rate when compared with the total 2012 numbers.
Upon accepting the interim post, Baxter said she wanted to “bury” the gas chamber — she said that is still the case. The county is still awaiting DEA licensing in order to get rid of the chamber, having originally been told by state health officials that it would be about three to four months, according to Baxter.
“It’s probably going to take another 60 days,” she said. “If it was up to me, it would’ve been done five months ago. The goal is ASAP.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.