CLAYTON — After the town’s animal shelter closed its doors in June amid controversial claims of mistreatment of animals, the town turned most of its animal control operations over to Johnston County, in an agreement that has resulted in thousands of dollars in savings for the town.
According to Town Manager Steve Biggs, the town set aside $6,100 in the 2012-2013 budget for animal control operations. The town has spent nothing so far this fiscal year in the operation, even though it is nearly halfway through the budget year.
Biggs said the town is not being required to pay a $65 per-animal boarding fee to the county as it paid before to the Clayton shelter. Instead, the only costs the town incurs from the deal is the cost of fuel, which is allotted in a fuel portion of the budget, separate from what was allotted for animal control.
Johnston County SPCA director Melinda Barefoot announced her retirement in February during controversy over animal abuse allegations. The town and the SPCA ended its contract for animal control boarding when the SPCA board of directors voted to close the shelter no later than Barefoot’s retirement by June 1.
A system that works
Clayton’s current animal control program relies on the town’s lone animal control officer, Angela Lee, who is employed by the Clayton Police Department.
Lee takes any stray, abandoned, mistreated or aggressive animals from Clayton to the Johnston County Animal Shelter in Smithfield.
Since the Clayton shelter shut down, the town has transported about 200 animals to the shelter in Smithfield, according to police Captain Wayne Bridges.
According to Johhnston County Animal Shelter director Ernie Wilkerson, the county shelter doesn’t charge any town in the county anything to handle their work. The only exception is when veterinary services are needed for an animal that is involved in an animal cruelty case that involves the town’s police department. That has not happened so far this year in Clayton, Wilkerson said.
The new arrangement has been viable for the town, but Wilkerson said he would love to be able to provide more services than they are able to at the county shelter now. He said if they were able to charge the towns for boarding their animals, they could have money for important services like providing intake vaccinations. But, it is the county’s policies to not charge the towns.
Plans for the property
The Johnston County SPCA which closed in June was located on Durham Street. The town still owns the property, which sits empty and unused. There are no current plans for the space, said Biggs.
Town council member Michael Grannis said there is not a pressing for the town to do anything with the property at this point. He has seen how the arrangement with the county shelter has worked out to be successful.
Another town council member, Jason Thompson, is also aware of the savings the town’s current plans have generated, but said he’d like, at some point, to see the space used by a non-profit that works to help animals.
“Eventually it’d be awesome if we could put it back in the animal community,” said Thompson, suggesting the possibility of operating an animal adoption center on the site.
Grannis said he would not be adverse to a non-profit group opening a new center at the building, but says he would want to make sure it is a viable and successful entity for the sake of the animals.