Help is on the way.
Wise County commissioners voted Monday to add a position at the Wise County Animal Shelter at the request of Administrator Linda Bryan.
“We have two-and-a-half people,” she said. “We don’t even have enough people to cover when someone is sick. I’m trying to get my part-time girl, full-time.”
Bryan said if her current part-time employee could work full time, she could better utilize her.
“She came from a Weatherford equine facility, so she’s well-educated and can handle it,” she said. “She’s a good employee, and I would hate to lose her. She left a full-time job with benefits to come here.”
Auditor Ann McCuiston said it would cost $8,800 to finish fiscal year 2014 with that job as a full-time post, but Bryan also wants to keep the part-time position. It would remain unfilled until next fiscal year.
The changes would mean a $37,000 increase to next year’s budget. McCuiston said the shelter has the $8,800 in this year’s budget to cover the immediate increase.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance asked if there was anyone at the Sheriff’s Office that could help cover shifts at the shelter. Until December 2013 when the shelter was made its own department, it was a division of the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.
“We discussed that and looked at a lot of areas,” said Sheriff David Walker, “but we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. We just don’t have enough people to go around.”
Walker said the shelter has been understaffed for some time, and Bryan’s request is similar to those he has made for the shelter in recent years.
“I never dreamed the shelter would be that busy, but it is,” he said. “They’re running their tails off inside that shelter.”
Walker said the S.O. sends them inmate labor, but they could send more inmates if the person going full-time is certified as a jailer, which is part of Bryan’s plan.
“It’s needed, and it’s been needed down there for a long time,” Walker said. “They’ve got their back in a corner now, and we’ve pushed it long enough.”
Lamance said he realizes that it’s a service in high-demand, and animal welfare is an important issue to many citizens.
“It’s not like it was a long time ago … you can’t just pick them up and haul them to Jack County,” he said, eliciting laughter.
He made the motion to approve the new position.
Interim Precinct 4 Commissioner Gary Potts seconded the motion.
“It’s just going to get worse; it’s not going to get better,” he said. “If we don’t address it now, it’s just going to be a train wreck later. You’re going to wind up down there with one employee … Then what are you going to do?
“Jack County will build a fence.”