Painter Quits Animal Shelter

Belmont County Animal Shelter manager Verna Painter has informed county commissioners she will retire early and leave her position effective March 18.

Commissioners accepted Painter’s resignation following a 40-minute executive session Wednesday.

Her announced departure comes after concerns about operations at the shelter and the actions of the Belmont County Animal Rescue League were voiced in late 2013.

Commissioner Mark Thomas said commissioners are continuing to investigate the allegations raised in December by former BCARL board member Cyndi Yanez and other county residents, who expressed worries bout the high number of dogs euthanized at the shelter, overcrowding at the facility and the failure of shelter personnel to properly market the dogs for adoption.

The Belmont County Animal Shelter is owned by Belmont County, though county commissioners contract with BCARL to operate the facility.

“There is continued dialogue between the commissioners and the Belmont County Animal Rescue League relative to the outstanding issues there contractually, and the allegations that have been made,” Thomas said. He added changes to the contract between Belmont County and BCARL could be forthcoming.

Employees at the shelter said Painter is no longer working there. Messages left at her home were not immediately returned Wednesday.

The Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio visited the Belmont County Animal Shelter in late December and offered suggestions to commissioners on how operations could be improved at the facility.

They recommended the commissioners authorize the purchase 30 elevated and insulated dog houses for the shelter, which they said could be built at cost by inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women for $50 each.

ACT Ohio also asked the commissioners for permission to return with a team from the Humane Society of the United States to remove and place some dogs “into reputable and verified rescues.”

Commissioners have yet to act on ACT Ohio’s recommendations.