Commission rethinks animal control site
by Jazz Clark
The Morgan County Commissioners last week rescinded the motion to put a proposed new animal control facility behind the old hospital.
At their Thursday, June 7 meeting, Commissioner Brad Close said public feedback had not been positive about the Hospital Hill decision, which was prompted by the need to specify a location so they could apply for a grant to fund the new facility.
“We need to look at both of the other two options, both the property between Widmyer Elementary and the Emergency Services Building, and the lot by the 522 ballfields,” Close said.
“I don’t think it’s fair for us to make that decision at this time without more public input. It’s good to have options,” he said.
The grant request to the Petco Foundation has already been submitted with the hospital location noted, but the decision can be amended later, it was said.
Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson was against the old hospital location when it was proposed at the previous meeting.
“No other county would build an animal kennel that close to a residential area,” Hutchinson said.
Shut down kennels?
While debate on the new location is ongoing, several citizens just want the current facility gone.
Brenda Stotler, who has lived next to the Rt. 9 facility since it was established, wants it permanently closed immediately and out of her neighborhood.
“We’ve put up with it for 10 years now,” Stotler said. “For the most part, we’ve been able to tolerate it. There were times that were bad, but not nearly as bad as the last two months.”
She said the noise has become unbearable since an animal seizure added 21 dogs to the facility on May 18.
“We can no longer go outside for any length of time due to the continuous barking, We feel like we’re being held prisoner in our own homes, and this facility has become a disgrace to the neighbors who live here,” Stotler said.
The noise pollution has also affected the nearby church and cemetery, where graveside memorial services were interrupted by the noise from the Animal Control facility.
Stotler and her neighbors did not want to wait months to see if the Petco grant came through. She doesn’t see wasting money on the current location when funds could be spent on a new one.
“I agree 100%,” said Commissioner Hutchinson. “I think the kennels should be closed and moved somewhere that is not a residential area.”
John Kronyak, who also voiced concern at the meeting, felt something very wrong is going on.
“If word of our animal control issues gets loose, it’s going to give us a bad, bad name,” Kronyak said. “I don’t know the politics behind this, the power-plays, but the only ones suffering are these animals.”
Morgan County has come a long way, but still needs a permanent facility somewhere else, he said.
Kronyak also disagreed with the terms used for dog processing. “Euthanasia is putting a dog out of its suffering. What we do is killing,” he said.
During the June 7 meeting, the commissioners voted to tweak an item on the county’s dog processing policy.
Dogs will be euthanized after the 30th day or when deemed unadoptable, and discretion will not be given to the Animal Control officer.
Commissioner Close was not comfortable giving so much flexibility, opting for a clear and direct policy of 30 days.
Commissioner Hutchinson was opposed, saying she was unwilling to micromanage the Animal Control Officer position.
The change passed with Close and Stacy Dugan voting yes, and Hutchinson voting no.