More than a year after purchasing a building in Montreal with intent to create an animal control facility, Camden County Sheriff's Department is going back to the drawing board — and the constituents.
During a meeting with the Camden County Commission Wednesday, Sheriff Department officials spoke of their needs and concerns regarding animal control.
Sheriff Dwight Franklin told the commission that the department simply does not have the resources to handle animal control calls.
"We haven't been picking up as many dogs. We have been telling them we have nowhere to take them," Franklin told the commission.
Animal control calls have always been one of the top calls for the county.
From January 2010 until December 2010, the county received 1,250 calls. The next year, Camden County received 1,235 animal calls. The number of calls slightly decreased in 2012. From January 2012 to December 2012, 886 animal calls were received.
From January 2013 until Oct. 16, the county received 344 animal calls. Of those calls, 154 were responded to by the two animal control officers on staff. One hundred fifty one of the calls were responded to by other deputies and other agencies helped on the other 39 calls.
"There is no easy answer — that's the whole problem with this situation," Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken said.
After lengthy discussion, the commission and sheriff department officials agreed that ordinances need to be in place to help deputies control the animal issues. Franken did add that if ordinances are in place but the county does not have the resources or man power to handle the in-flow of animals, that could create a bigger issue.
The commission plans to take this issue back to constituents. Last October, a public meeting was held at the Montreal building for residents living near the proposed facility. Commissioners want to meet with residents throughout the entire county to get their feedback.
"I think we should just move forward and take as much input as we can and integrate that into what we do," Franken said.
The sheriff's department officials agreed with Franken.
"We will do what the public decides is best for the area. We don't want to be the ones to decide," Undersherriff Darrell Walden said.
Commissioner Bev Thomas wants to allow all residents to have a say in this matter.
"We have to know what the entire county really thinks," Thomas said.
Officials also said that one deputy has already adopted twelve animals that were picked up by animal control to keep as his own pets.
There are many other decisions to make when it comes to the animal facility. Should the facility be a kill or no kill facility, should the facility allow adoptions and who will staff the building are all still up in the air.
Page 2 of 2 - $40,000 has been set aside for the facility. The Sheriff's Department's 2014 proposed budget includes $25,000 for animal control equipment but does not include any extra funds.
A date for public hearings throughout the county have not been scheduled at this time.