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County hires new director for animal control department

A recent move by Stanly County Commissioners to put the Animal Control office under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Office was further implemented recently when a new director for the shelter was chosen and its first full-time sworn officer picked.

The Sheriff’s Office announced the hiring of Jana Aviles as the new director of the shelter while Sgt. Tim Rogers is now working full-time as an animal control officer.

Aviles comes to the shelter from the Cabarrus County Animal Shelter where she worked for eight years. However, she said she had been volunteering previously to that time at the Cabarrus Animal Hospital as a vet assistant and later the adoption manager.

“I’m hoping to bring that sheltering and medical experience and behavior background to assess fully animals and get them out to the best place possible,” Aviles said.

Starting Tuesday, the shelter will be closed and not be taking new animals until Nov. 16 so the shelter can be deep cleaned and repainted to help prevent disease outbreaks. She said changes coming to the shelter will include vaccinations and new cleaning protocols.

Aviles said along with the legal aspects of the new department the focus moving forward will be to “take care of the animals mentally and physically while they’re with us.”

Several changes and updates to the county’s animal ordinances were passed at Monday’s meeting of the commissioners. The department will now be known as Stanly County Animal Protective Services and the authority for the Sheriff’s Office was spelled out in detail while removing mentions of the Stanly County Health Department in the ordinance. A new appeal board has also been established, which will include the county manager, the Emergency Management manager and the Health and Human Services director.

“We are an open intake animal control so there are times when we’re going to have to euthanize,” Aviles said.

She hopes those instances will be limited to medical and behavioral cases. She also said limiting euthanized animals to those cases will happen “as long as we can get the community support to get (other animals) out of the building.”

Aviles said medical refers to cases when an animal is injured “to the point that it’s more humane to euthanize the animal than to keep it suffering.”

She said Animal Protective Services will work with local rescue organizations to find homes for animals.

“The ultimate goal is for all of the animal control officers to be sworn officers,” Stanly County Sheriff Jeff Crisco said, noting sworn officers can conduct felony investigations and have powers to arrest.

Crisco said the new director “already brings her network to the table.”

The sheriff said Animal Control “has had a stigma or a reputation in this county for a long time of being substandard,” but the new staff members are trying to change that.

For example, one complaint previously was animal control officers would not come out for a call. Now, “point blank, if you get dispatched to a goldfish in a mud hole, you’re going to get in your car and respond,” meaning officers will respond in person to animal complaints.

The new staff will also appear at public events like a recent trunk-and-treat event to show animals available for adoption. The department also received a grant within the last year for a mobile display for animals, allowing staff to attend more events.

That trailer has been parked for a while, but Crisco said he promises in the near future it will get marked up due to being used.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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