Following an investigation in which no charges were filed, Madison County Animal Shelter Director Greg Cave spoke to supervisors about some upcoming changes at the county-owned facility.
An eight-week investigation into the shelter by the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences’ Office of Veterinary Services (VOVS) revealed several “non-critical violations” at the facility. Those included inadequate records, not following through with daily health status monitoring and logging and not documenting that policy had been followed when dealing with medically compromised animals.
According to county administrator Jack Hobbs, those issues are being handled via a new policy manual for the shelter. He said the document, which is in its first draft, includes policies and ordinances dealing with the shelter. He also noted that financial procedures at the shelter need to be refined.
“It’s not like anyone is doing anything wrong, but what they are doing could be done better in terms of documentation,” Hobbs said. “We need to setup processes for that.”
He said the manual also consolidates decision making so one employee is making the final decision versus various employees and volunteers. He also said information needs to be logged as noted in the “non-critical violations.”
“I don’t know that it’s a matter of anyone doing anything wrong, but we could do things better,” Hobbs said. “Greg [Cave] suggested a number of these.”
Hobbs said the medical treatment of animals at the shelter is up to the shelter veterinarian. Hobbs and Cave plan to meet with the veterinarian in the near future. Also, a higher number of cats can be diverted to rescue groups. Unused firearms located at the shelter have been turned over to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
Cave said the shelter has worked with rescue groups in the past and he has been working on establishing relationships with those eligible to accept cats from the shelter. He also said the shelter could start a trap and neuter program for strays, something that has been discussed in the past.
Perhaps the biggest change may be yet to come. Hobbs said there have been discussions about separating the shelter and animal control duties, with the latter becoming part of the sheriff’s office. He said that’s something that will need to be worked on during the upcoming budget season.
“The investigations came out better than they could go,” board of supervisors chairman Clay Jackson said. “Use them as constructive [criticism].”
Cave said the shelter aced previous inspections. He said the new protocols the state veterinarian has placed on the facility will be cumbersome with the shelter basically operating like a veterinarian office, observing animals coming in and documenting it.
Supervisor Jonathon Weakley said the past inspections were accurate with the shelter having been cited in a good light.
“In light of the investigations, I agree to safeguard and provide oversight animal control be separated,” he said. “It has to be discussed as there are some impacts, but I appreciate the results and the outcome.”
Hobbs praised Cave for the way he handled the investigations.
“He’s had a good rough couple of months,” Hobbs said. “He held his head high and hasn’t lost his cool. He represented the county well and that’s what we like [in our employees].”
The draft animal shelter policy manual can be viewed at https://www.madisonco.virginia.gov/animalcontrol/page/shelter-policies.