Renovations are complete at Greene County Animal Care and Control, and the new director says she’s committed to making more improvements in both the shelter and how the department operates.
County officials have hired former Butler County Dog Warden Julie Holmes-Taylor to lead their animal control department. The former director, Michael Sagester, abruptly quit the post in September, about a month after being hired.
Holmes-Taylor formerly served as president of the Ohio County Dog Wardens Association and worked on a task force to address the problem of puppy mills in the state. She started in Greene County in late November, working at an annual salary of $70,262, according to county administration.
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“We were fortunate to find Julie Holmes-Taylor to take the position,” said Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson. “She has a tremendous background in animal control and welfare. She has been on board a short time but has already made some substantial improvements to our operations.”
Contracted work to install new cages and re-coat the floors at the kennel are complete. The roughly $47,000 project was paid for through a grant from the Dayton Community Foundation, according to county officials.
Many other changes have already happened since Holmes-Taylor has come aboard. The shelter now has an active Facebook page that has garnered hundreds of followers in less than two months. The facility’s surgical room has been expanded, an important change Holmes-Taylor said to allow animals to be monitored closely as they wake up from being under anesthesia.
Those are some of the many items already checked off a long to-do list spelled out on a white board in Holmes-Taylor’s office. The shelter is now working with PetFinder.com, a national pet-adoption website, and Holmes-Taylor said they’ll be using the national Adopt-a-Pet.com program, which also broadens the pool of potential homes and increases the chances of adoption for strays and other animals that end up at the Greene County shelter.
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Holmes-Taylor said the community can expect to see more outreach programs from the shelter and increased volunteer opportunities.
“I’m really excited about what our animal control officers are going to be doing here at the shelter and our staff and the animals that we’re helping,” Holmes-Taylor said.
Holmes-Taylor was most recently working as the manager of animal control in Glynn County, Ga. She has a farm in Butler County.
There are eight full-time and two part-time employees at Greene County Animal Care and Control. Holmes-Taylor said she’s getting her officers more training for animal-cruelty investigations and in self-defense to increase safety while working in the community.
Last year the shelter took in 695 cats and 1,030 dogs, according to county records. Only eight of those animals were euthanized for reasons other than bad temperament or poor health, according to the records.
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Holmes-Taylor said shelters are under a lot of pressure to keep “live release” numbers high, in which animals are adopted out or transferred to other facilities. She said those numbers don’t reflect animals that are sent out of shelters that may pose a threat to the community, a practice she doesn’t condone.
“I think too often animal control gets a negative, bad name,” she said. “There are a tremendous amount of people working behind the scenes to better these animals, get them into great homes and then provide a great, valuable resource to our residents.”