ST. CLAIRSVILLE?- The Belmont County Animal Shelter has a new director, and she wants to expand the facility to accommodate what she expects will be an increased number of abandoned animals as the county grows.
Angela Hatfield of St. Clairsville began the job Monday. She worked 23 years with UPS, and has been active with political fundraising and the Belmont County Democrat Party in recent years.
Hatfield replaces former director Verna Painter, who announced her retirement in March. Diane Amend had been in charge of operations at the shelter since that time.
The director's duties include managing day-to-day operations at the shelter including personnel, records, facilities maintenance and fundraising.
The shelter came under fire late last year after some volunteers expressed worries about the high number of dogs being euthanized at the shelter, overcrowding at the facility and the failure of shelter personnel to properly market the dogs for adoption.
But Hatfield - previously a member of the Belmont County Animal Rescue League's board of directors - said her passion for animals is what led her to take the job as shelter director.
"First off, I would say there were a lot of things being put out there that were not actually fact," she said. "As director, I want to make sure the shelter is run properly and is compliant, and that is a huge thing. I want to make sure we continue doing all the right things, and to grow the business."
Belmont County is at the beginning of an oil and gas boom, and Hatfield expects there to be more people and pets moving into the area.
"The county is going to be growing, and it is important for us to have a larger facility to house the increase in animals over the next few years," she said. "I'm going to be working with an architect to develop plans for a facility to accommodate dogs and cats, as well as equine animals. They have become an issue for us here in recent months. I want to develop this shelter into a facility people will be proud of."
Hatfield also wants to open the shelter up for visits by local school children, and to impress upon them at an early age the need to properly care for animals.