Animal funds

Kent County considering sweeping changes to animal control and shelter duties

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Kent County is considering a host of changes to its animal control and animal shelter units, including the possible creation of a foundation for the shelter that people could donate to.

Proposed changes recommended by county staff include:

  • Moving animal control operations and oversight from the Kent County Health Department to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Make the Kent County Animal Shelter a stand-alone service under the county administrator, rather than the health department.
  • Create a non-profit organization or foundation that would allow people to support the operations of animal shelters.
  • Increase volunteer opportunities at the shelter.
  • Enact two county-drafted ordinances that outline pet owners’ obligations, potential civil penalties they may face for violations, and allowing animal control officers to write civil infractions.

“We are proud of the successes and quality services provided through our animal shelter and animal control functions,” Kent County Administrator Al Vanderberg said in a memo to the County Board of Commissioners. Kent County on recommendation changes.

“In an ongoing effort to evolve and improve county government operations, I bring recommendations to the board that adjust our approaches to these services.”

In one of the first recommended changes, on Thursday, June 9, the Kent County Board of Commissioners will decide on a measure that will effectively transfer county-wide animal control and supervision operations from the Department of Health at the sheriff’s office.

The proposal calls for the addition of a lieutenant and two sergeants to oversee animal control operations. If approved on Thursday, the transfer will go into effect on July 1. The yearly cost of the lieutenant would be around $150,000 and the yearly cost of the two sergeants would total around $265,000.

Vanderberg said having the sheriff’s office oversee animal control will increase the level of training, enforcement, investigative techniques, community outreach and media relations for the animal control department.

There will always be civilian animal control officers, and animal shelters and animal control units, under the proposed arrangement, will always work together.

Of Michigan’s 83 counties, the majority — 44 counties — have animal control departments under the supervision of their sheriff’s offices, Vanderberg said. A further 33 counties have stand-alone animal control and housing offices and the remaining six, which currently include Kent County, have these offices overseen by their respective health departments.

In recommending making the animal shelter a stand-alone department that reports to his office, Vanderberg said it raises awareness and matters the work and allows the health department to focus on public health functions, while remaining available to help. animal issues that have an impact. public health.

Vanderberg also recommends that the board create an animal shelter support organization, such as a foundation or nonprofit, that would provide an additional source of funding through donations and bring positive attention to the shelter.

“We expect local interest and love for animals to translate into strong support,” Vanderberg said. “This type of partnership could have long-term benefits for the animal shelter, the animals and the adopters.”

Remaining recommendations include increasing volunteer opportunities at the shelter and drafting and approving a Municipal Civil Violations Ordinance and Kent County Animal Control Ordinance.

The county currently has rules regarding pet ownership and the fines and fees violators may face. However, these animal control duties are performed pursuant to state public health code regulations, not an ordinance written and issued by the county.

The county’s animal control ordinance would set out what pet owners are required to do and what civil penalties they could face for violating those obligations.

The municipal offenses ordinance would allow animal control officers to write civil offense citations. The scale of fines proposed in the ordinance will also be presented to council for approval.

If the seriousness of the situation calls for criminal charges and prosecution, criminal law enforcement would remain available to the sheriff’s office.

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