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New Kerr County Animal Shelter hours effective tomorrow

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 9:01 pm

In an effort to reduce the expense of accrued compensatory time by staff members, to save taxpayer funds and to increase public access, the Kerr County Commissioners’ Court has decided to revise the hours of the Kerr County Animal Services shelter, effective Thursday, Oct. 17.

“It has been about a year since the commissioners’ court changed the shelter operations at Kerr County Animal Services after entering into an interlocal agreement with the City of Kerrville,” said Commissioner (Pct. 3) Jonathan Letz. “The commissioners grew concerned about accumulated comp time and the work schedule at the shelter. The commissioners’ court directed KCAS Director Reagan Givens to develop a plan that would address these concerns while still meeting the intent of our interlocal agreement with the city.”

After Givens presented a comprehensive report and a resolution earlier this week, the Kerr County Commissioners’ Court unanimously voted to change the shelter’s hours of operation and its policy regarding volunteers.

Change in Hours

Effective Thursday morning, Oct. 17, the shelter facility’s new hours will be: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Since the fall of 2018, the shelter has been staffed 47 hours a week and open to the public for 39 hours a week. With the proposed changes, the shelter will be staffed 40 hours a week and open to the public 40 hours a week.

“These new hours will reduce the cost of staffing by 7 hours a week, which will add up to a substantial savings in tax dollars over time. Even more good news is that we will increase the public’s access to the shelter by 1 hour per week. By taking later lunches and staying open later during the week, we are accommodating those who work. Plus, the adjusted scheduled will hopefully allow additional time for adoption events and educational activities,” Letz said, adding that none of the adjustments will impact the animal control officers or the law enforcement aspect of the interlocal agreement.

“In effect, we’re reducing our operating costs and saving taxpayer funds, while also increasing public access. It’s a win-win,” agreed Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly.

The county-owned shelter, located at 3600 Loop 534 in Kerrville, has experienced great success, adopting out more than 1,000 dogs and cats this year so far, according to Givens.

In addition, the shelter serves as the base for many animal control services conducted by the county’s officers, such as: serving as the local rabies control authority, as an ambassador for public safety, finding lost pets for local residents, investigating animal cruelty cases, rescuing trapped animals, enforcing licensing laws, ensuring animal welfare, promoting health-related services and health awareness for pets and impounding stray animals.

Judge Kelly stressed the importance of Kerr County Animal Services focusing its operations on fulfilling the county’s state-mandated responsibilities, such as those regarding rabies control and public safety.

“As one could imagine, the long list of services we provide keeps our limited number of staff members extremely busy,” Givens said. “In the interest of providing balance to our staffing and maintain a more cost-effective budget on behalf of our local taxpayers, I believe the decision made by our county leaders is the correct one.”

“We believe this will be a positive change for our facility,” Givens added. “We ask that the public be patient, cooperative and understanding with shelter staff members as we undertake these adjustments. Please keep in mind that all of us at Kerr County Animal Services are animal lovers, too! We want what is best for the animals, and, of course, we will make sure the shelter animals will be well taken care of even during the hours the shelter will be closed – just as we always have.”

Volunteer Policy

In addition to requesting that Givens provide them with a comprehensive report on employees’ accrued comp time, commissioners also discussed liability issues concerning volunteers and the many helping hands they lend to the county’s shelter.

“The community has been so helpful and has turned out in force to help us at the shelter, Letz said. “We are grateful to have such a strong volunteer base. In my oversight of the county’s insurance, I came to realize that we need to monitor our volunteer staff more carefully.”

As a result, the county’s elected leaders directed Givens to come up with a more exact volunteers’ schedule. “If we ask volunteers to sign up for specific times in advance, we’ll be sure to have the support we need and appreciate greatly in a controlled, more consistent manner,” Letz said.

Givens said the new volunteer schedule will start on Monday, Oct. 21. Volunteers who would like to sign up are asked to stop by the shelter a few days in advance, so the proper paperwork can be signed to protect the volunteers and the county from liability issues should they arise.

A Never-Ending Mission

According to Givens, the shelter’s challenge of finding forever homes for animals is made tougher by people who simply don’t care or refuse to take responsibility for their pets in the first place.

The facility has placed 1,000 dogs and cats this year, but since Jan. 1 it has impounded 1,766 animals. Of those, 635 were animals that were surrendered by their owners who no longer were able to or wanted to care for them. The balance – some 1,131 animals – were stray dogs and cats that were picked up off the street. “Sadly, only 257 dogs and cats were reclaimed by their owners. That means there were 874 animals that nobody ever came to claim,” Givens said.

“We do all we can at the shelter to adopt out pets to responsible, loving homes, but it is difficult when we’re dealing with the sheer numbers of unwanted animals that we see come into our facility,” he said. “We encourage people to think through a decision to adopt a pet, because being a pet owner is a commitment. Pets enrich our lives so much, though, that the investment you put into a dog or cat as a family member is more than returned. Consider making a commitment to a shelter dog or cat today, by opening your heart and your home.”

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1 comment:

  • Lacy Teel posted at 4:33 am on Thu, Oct 17, 2019.

    Lacy Teel Posts: 0

    Many have worked behind the scenes, volunteering their time, money and resources for Kerr County Animal Control, to give the companion animals a better chance at getting out alive. This Commissioners Court has undone the labor of love from so many, for the benefit of a few. They have essentially made it more difficult for Ker County residents to claim their lost pets and made it harder for those looking to adopt a new best friend. Shameful the Commissioners, led by Commissioner Letz, do not think the animals of Kerr County are important or the voices of those of us that pay taxes and vote, should have a say in how our local shelter is run. You can believe, the advocates for the vulnerable, have taken notice and will be voting accordingly.