Editor's note: In response to the recent county budget cuts to close a gap estimated at more than $31 million for the rest of fiscal 2011, the following is a follow-up to the writer's April 25 column calling for all animal lovers to step up and do whatever they can to help save Cobb's shelter animals.
The Monday meeting between Commissioner Chairman Tim Lee, County Manager, David Hankerson, Commissioner Woody Thompson, and Public Safety officials happened on Tuesday instead.
I spoke with both Commissioner Woody Thompson, board liaison to Animal Control and to Cpt. Jeff Patellis, Animal Control Director regarding the meeting’s outcome. The Animal Control budget was addressed and it was decided that Animal Control will only have a 2-percent overall cut in their budget.
Both Cpt. Patellis and Commissioner Thompson emphasized that there would be absolutely no reduction in the care of the animals or the number of animals housed at the shelter. Other areas that will not be affected by the cut are sanitation efforts (to minimize diseases) or medical supplies.
Commissioner Thompson admitted that he wished he could give more money to the shelter but for now, they will just stay the course.
From listening to Cpt. Patellis and Commissioner Thompson, it is apparent that Patellis runs a tight ship and budgets his department without any built-in “fluff.” Because of his no waste attitude, there was little room, or need, for cuts in his department.
A promoter of prevention through cleanliness, unified staff training, and employing staff with a heart for the job, Patellis seeks to make this shelter the best in Georgia. He gave me a tour of the facility and was quite proud of the new veterinary suite funded in full by donation and court fee money - no tax dollars were spent.
Having a full-time vet on staff will save the county money. Patellis says that, “With a vet on site, we will no longer be outsourcing vet fees.” Also, with the vet coming on board (May 30) the county spay/neuter program will begin.
So, what can the public do? That’s what I wanted to know. The shelter has a donation fund set-up. These monies cannot be used by the county and must go toward the betterment of the animals. To access money from the fund, it must be requested by the director and its use approved by the county manager.
Another area that is critical is volunteers – volunteers with a passion for the animals, a commitment to the animals, and the willingness to do what is needed to help the animals.
An area not discussed with these two, but vitally important, is that of promotion - promoting the shelter animals so they will be adopted. You can help.
Vicki Hammond writes a "Pets of the Week'' column for Smyrna-Vinings Patch that can be found here each and every Saturday morning.