Burke County has created a temporary email address to solicit feedback on the Animal Services recommendations that were presented to the Board of Commissioners on March 19. To submit your feedback please email firstname.lastname@example.org. A full list of the Animal Services recommendations can be found below. Thank you for your participation and input!
Burke County Animal Services Recommendations
- Appropriate approximately $15,000 or more for minor renovations/repairs to ensure the current facility is as efficient, welcoming, and comfortable as possible until a permanent solution is determined. The renovations should be completed within the next 90 days.
- Replace the existing office furniture within the next 90 days with better used furniture until a permanent solution is determined.
- Upgrade the computers and software within the next 30 days to handle the demands of using modern social media practices.
- Issue an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for a firm with extensive animal shelter building expertise and animal welfare experience to conduct a facility needs assessment to learn the true needs for the shelter now and in the future.
- Once the RFQ process is complete, a firm would be selected and funding appropriated ($5,000 - $25,000 or other amount to be determined by the Board) at the April Commissioners' meeting.
- It is recommended that the County explore a variety of funding options for a new animal center, examples include utilizing grants, loans, fundraising, pet licensing fees, municipal participation, pay-as-you-go, or bonds.
- Staff should work with the Finance Department to research what procedures need to be implemented to allow citizens, groups, and non-profits to donate money for the construction of a new Animal Services Center to ensure the process is as smooth as possible with the IRS.
Organizational Structure Recommendations:
- Moving forward, Animal Services should be placed under the direct authority of the county manager.
- The Burke County Sheriff's Office should continue animal control operations, with the day to day operations of the animal center conducted by county staff.
- Initially, the new Animal Services Department should have three (3) full-time employees. One (1) Director, one (1) Shelter Coordinator, and one (1) Animal Technician or some comparable position.
- A robust volunteer program should be developed and implemented as soon as possible. Volunteers would provide administrative support services, would work with staff to ensure animals are cared for and to be advocates in our community.
- Inmate labor should not be used moving forward. The presence of an inmate at the shelter is inconsistent with our vision to make the shelter a welcoming, vibrant place for individuals and families to interact with center staff and their prospective pet(s) without anxiety or trepidation.
- The hours of operation for the Burke County Animal Services Center should be:
Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
- Adoptions for both the public and approved rescue agencies should take place from 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. daily.
- In keeping with Burke County's motto, "All About Advancing," good public relations practices, and listening to public feedback, the sale of animal carcasses should cease.
- Animal Services staff should develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to ensure consistency of service, equitable treatment of animals and the public, and to have a guide for everyday procedures within 30 days or less.
- Animal Services should utilize and be engaged with social media platforms. Using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will help ensure animals are visible and have an increased chance of being adopted, reduce euthanasia, and reduce the number of animals housed in the Burke County shelter.
- Staff should frequently post pictures of animals that are up for adoption. Engage the community by having an "animal of the week" event that highlights a certain animal at the center, with a short write-up, and a picture.
- Social media should be used to inform the community about any public/shelter events. Social media should also be used to inform the public about early closings or changes in hours.
- Burke County Animal Services should frequently post and update their section of the Burke County website with relevant information and connect the public to animal resources.
- In conjunction with social media, Animal Services should post photos and videos of adoptable animals to the website.
- The website should have a community calendar section to let the public know in advance of any events.
- Staff should work with groups such as REASON, vets, and foster groups to inform the public about any spay and neuter events/services, using social and traditional media.
- Staff should work and collaborate with Burke County Public Schools and REASON to expand educational programs offered at schools and send spay and neuter literature home with students.
- Presentations could be made to local civic groups and rescue organizations to inform the public about the importance of spaying and neutering their animals and the resources and services available.
Low or No Cost Education/Marketing Recommendations:
- "K-9 Cop for a Day" once a month an adoptable dog spends a portion of the day riding with a police officer and meets members of the community.
- Feature adoptable pets at Burke County Board of Commissioners' meetings. A photo or the actual animal can be presented to promote and encourage adoptions. With buy-in, this recommendation can also be extended to the municipalities in Burke County.
- Animal Services can partner with County departments and other municipalities to advertise services on digital signs to increase awareness of animal services, adoptions, and spay and neuter services.
Marketing Recommendations – Some Cost
- The Burke County Animal Shelter (Animal Services Center) can further increase their visibility by utilizing billboard space on I-40.
- Animal Services could reach out to local news media for free or reduced advertising, public service announcements, pet of the week.
- Burke County could partner with REASON, local vets, and foster groups to develop a free spay and neuter day.
- Burke County could hire a marketing firm to rebrand the image of the animal shelter (Animal Services Department and the Animal Services Center) and to promote spay and neuter education / services.
- Burke County Animal Services staff should research home fostering opportunities. This would allow those who are not officially affiliated with a rescue group to have the opportunity to foster an animal in their home. This will free space at the center, help animals find a permanent home, and help socialize animals.
- Burke County Animal Services staff should research and evaluate current adoption fees to ensure adoption fees do not hinder anyone seeking to adopt an animal from the center.
- Burke County Animal Services staff should research the prospect of approved rescue groups pulling animals that have been deemed aggressive by staff to be evaluated by an animal behavioral specialist.
- Burke County Animal Services staff should research and implement a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program to humanely address feral/community cat issues.
- Animal Services staff should research and evaluate any needed changes to the Burke County Animal Ordinance regarding the adoption process and any general changes to make the Ordinance more equitable and clearer for both citizens and staff. Any potential changes to the Ordinance should only occur after ample research is done, public input is acquired, and direction is given from the Burke County Board of Commissioners.
- Burke County Animal Services staff, in addition to evaluating the Animal Ordinance overall, should assess the cat colony section to gauge whether the scope of the section needs to be changed or removed.