Alleged Shelter Abuse at Issue

The Jefferson County Humane Society will prepare a policy and procedure manual for the county’s animal shelter in response to complaints lodged about dogs being euthanized too quickly and alleged abuse.

Jefferson County commissioners made the announcement Thursday after a closed-door meeting with Sally Wehr, county human society president. Commissioners also met in executive session with Ed Bell, the county’s dog warden.

Wehr said the policy and procedure manual will be a working document that will be expanded with time.

“This will help alleviate any type of public concern,” she said.

Commissioner Thomas Graham said a county humane office and Bell will have to sign an approval before any dog is euthanized.

Commissioners have said the number of dogs being put down has decreased since the animal shelter opened two years ago.

Commissioner David Maple said the commissioners will continue an investigation into allegations at the shelter.

Commissioner Tom Gentile said the goal of the shelter is put down as few dogs as possible while getting as many adopted as possible.

Gentile said the county wouldn’t have the $1.5 million animal shelter without the hard work of the humane society.

Commissioners also received the annual report of the county engineer’s department.

County Engineer James Branagan said, “The dry, hot summer allowed our crews to complete scheduled work early providing extra time to perform more routine work such as ditching and asphalt patching. Highlights for the year include the 41.47 miles of chip-seal, installation of 1,382 high-reflectivity signs and an estimated $3.3 million of (road) repairs by the gas, oil and coal mining companies.”

Kara Bernhart, an engineer at the department, said there were six major bridge projects completed last year. Graham said an “amazing amount of money” was spent on the county’s highway system last year. Maple said the engineer’s department sets goals and a strategy to achieve those goals.

Gentile said the department has the foresight to set long-term goals, but the public mostly is concerned about short-term results.

“It is noticeable driving around Jefferson County there are fewer potholes,” Gentile said.