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Jefferson Co. Animal Control Dept. transferred to sheriff's department

July 28, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • In this Herald-Mail file photo, Jefferson County Maintenance Director Bill Polk on checks the condition of a column, one of four at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town, W.Va. For the last seven years Polk also served as the county's chief dog warden. On Thursday, at Polk's request, the Jefferson County Commissioners told Polk to hang up his dogcatcher's net for good.
Herald-Mail file photo

CHARLES TOWN. W.Va. — For the last seven years, Bill Polk, head of the Jefferson County Maintenance Department, also served as the county's chief dog warden.

On Thursday, at Polk's request, the Jefferson County Commissioners told Polk to hang up his dogcatcher's net for good. The commissioners, in a 4-1 vote, transferred the four-employee Jefferson County Animal Control Department to the sheriff's department.

"It's where it should be," Polk told the commissioners.

The department employees would get better training under the sheriff's department, get more respect in the community and have better scheduling, he said.

Sheriff Bobby Shirley said while he wasn't looking to take over the animal control department, transferring it would pose no problems for his deputies.

"I'm not opposed to it, and it would be better for the county," he said.

Commissioners President Patsy Noland said leaving the animal-control unit under the maintenance department this long "was an oversight."

County Administrator Tim Boyde said animal-control duties are supervised by sheriff departments in many counties across the state.

The department's four employees would receive their same salaries and would not fall under the county's civil service rules. The unit's four vehicles would transfer with the employees.

County animal control enforces county and state dog laws dealing mostly with strays, roaming and dangerous dogs, said Denise Lambotte, department supervisor.

Its four employees do not have arrest powers. They call the sheriff's department for assistance when criminal activity or animal cruelty is suspected.

Dogs that are picked up are taken to the county's animal shelter at 161 Poor Farm Road in Kearneysville, W.Va., Polk said.

They can be euthanized after being advertised for five days, he said.

Asked about the number of dogs put down each year, Polk said the Jefferson County shelter has one of the lowest euthanization rates in the state.

"They work with rescue and adoption agencies all the time," he said.

Lambotte said the department responded to more than 1,100 calls last year.

She said she was looking forward to the training the sheriff's department would provide the employees.

"I'm excited about that."

Commissioner Walt Pellish cast the single no vote. He said he supported the move, but thought his fellow commissioners discussed the issue more than was needed.

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