MCSO Animal Control Services in 2018
Sheriff Salisbury wants to assure the residents of Mason County that although animal control services have changed in 2018, they have not been eliminated. Unfortunately, budget cuts of over $1.5 million dollars since July of 2017 have forced the MCSO leadership to make some critical decisions about reductions in service, and the amount and type of animal control services was one such decision. We want to explain the reasons why the Animal Control position was defunded, and explain what services are still available to the citizens of Mason County.
In June of 2017 the BOCC cut $898,484.00 from the MCSO budget. In order to make the required cuts the sheriff’s office lost employees to layoff and retirement, and we had to defund numerous unfilled positions. One unfilled position, Evidence Technician, was a position that the MCSO was actively trying to fill but ultimately had to defund to meet the budget reduction. For the Sheriff, being a custodian of evidence is a mandated service, and since we lost that position we were forced to reassign a fully commissioned detective to serve as the evidence custodian. The reassignment of a detective to serve as the evidence custodian prevents the detective from the primary job of investigating felony crimes.
It was the sincere hope of Sheriff Salisbury and his staff that the detective reassignment would be short term and that we would have the Evidence Technician position re-funded. We quickly learned, at the beginning of the 2018 budget planning process, that the BOCC intended to make further cuts. Our staff met with each of the county commissioners and were actively engaged in the 2018 budget process. In our meeting with Commissioner Randy Neatherlin, he suggested that the Sheriff could eliminate the Animal Control position and have deputies respond to animal control calls. When the MCSO learned that we were going to have $676,755.00 in further cuts to meet our 2018 budget, the decision was made to move our Animal Control officer to the Evidence Technician position, a position for which she was highly qualified, so that our detective could return to her primary job of investigating felony crimes.
Because our Animal Control officer was previously a full-time position, she was able to respond to all types of animal complaints: criminal, civil, nuisance, and the like. However, since the Animal Control position, an unmandated service, had to be defunded in order to fill a mandated role as our evidence custodian, animal complaints are falling to our already overrun patrol personnel. Consequently, only animal control calls that are criminal in nature, such as animal cruelty and neglect, or dangerous dog calls, will be investigated by patrol personnel. All non-criminal animal control services previously provided by the MCSO will not be investigated.
Sheriff Salisbury was very proud of the Animal Control program that had been fully developed by Officer Brewer. Officer Brewer cares deeply for animals and she had developed a program that was recognized by the National Animal Control Association for the program’s excellence and innovation in service. The budget cuts have consequences, however, and Sheriff Salisbury was forced to focus on mandated services. The Mason County community should rest assured, however, that criminal animal complaints will still be fully investigated by the MCSO.