Did You Know That Pickens County will soon has a new animal shelter?
Take a Tour: Pickens County Animal Shelter – Courtesy of Jessica Bowers, Pickens Living Online
Sheriff Donnie Craig gave Pickens Living Online a tour of the facility and information to share.
Sheriff Craig has a goal of having the shelter open by October 1st. It will be in the old EMS station located across the road from the new Bargain Barn just off Hwy 515. I remember taking my driver’s license exam there with my best friend when we were 16 years old.
In this season of government budget shortfalls, Sheriff Craig cut costs by using Pickens County inmates that had been sentenced by the state to either jail terms and/or community service. It became a privilege earned by good behavior. The sheriff’s department also worked closely with Judge Brenda Weaver. Judge Weaver agreed to waive fines and community service hours in exchange for quality labor time put in by the inmates on the shelter. Costs were further cut by the commissioner coming on his vacation days to do the electrical wiring. Some of the old materials from the existing building were able to be reused and recycled, making the shelter even more budget and environmentally friendly.
Lieutenant Wayne Cooley was appointed to a short-term post over special projects. He has been working closely with the inmates on construction and training in use of the special apoxy used to seal the floors and walls. This will make sanitation much easier; a pressure washer can even be used to super clean the kennels! The inmates also gained a skill by learning how to apply this product and some of them will be getting certified in its use. This means that they have now gained a wonderful marketable skill to help them become part of the labor force when they have served their due to the state.
The facility will cost about $110,000. For comparison, the Gilmer County shelter is smaller and cost about $700,000. This shelter will be only for dogs and cats. Until other arrangements can be made, farm animals will have to be cared for through contracts. It will be able to house about 65 large dogs, 30+ small dogs, and 30 cats.
The adoption policy is not yet in place, but Sheriff Craig says he is determined to use euthanasia as a last resort. Official county policy would be to hold an animal for 3-5days, but Sheriff Craig would like to keep the animals as long as possible. The Big Canoe Rescue is also working to set up a meeting between Sheriff Craig and Pickens Animal Rescue in the hopes of creating a partnership. Any adoptable animals would be given an opportunity to be fostered and adopted out by the local rescues.
All animals adopted from the shelter will be micro-chipped, spay/neutered, and have 30 days of pet insurance through the software provider, Pet Point.
Local veterinarian Dr. Chester of Animal Medical Clinic has volunteered to help in any way he can. Dr. Dan Fincher, recently elected to the Board of Education, has also stepped up and said he would pitch in. Christina Voyles has been hired to be the shelter manager and there will be two animal control officers with room to add two more if needed in the future. The rest of the labor will be done by volunteers and approved inmates.
This shelter has had a rocky start. There has been confusion as to why the animal control service would begin with the facility incomplete. To begin with, the county had a contract to have animals housed in the Gordon County shelter. Complaints by Pickens County citizens to the Gordon County government lead to this being terminated by Gordon County. After this fell through, Dr. Chester agreed to help. Unfortunately, that meant the cost per animal for housing went from $35 to $135. So far this year, the animal control service has received 826 calls with 9 bite cases and 106 animals impounded.
Now that the Pickens County Animal Shelter is nearing completion, the Animal Control will have an easier time executing their duties and helping the citizens of Pickens County, both two and four-legged. If you have any questions, you can contact Sheriff Craig at [email protected] or call (706) 253-8902. You can also visit the Sheriff’s Department Website at www.PickensGaSheriff.com