Smith County commissioners hear concerns over lack of animal control funding, manpower

Smith County commissioners hear concerns over lack of animal control funding, manpower
Smith County commissioners hear concerns over lack of animal control funding, manpower
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 7:38 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2022 at 10:02 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Concerns over animal control took center stage at the start of Tuesday’s meeting of the Smith County Commissioners Court, as commissioners heard from animal rescue organizations and a citizen concerned about the resources dedicated to animal control.

“You cannot keep doing the same thing you’re doing,” said one woman during the meeting’s public comment period. “Please add additional funding. Hire people that want to do the job.”

“Guys, we have to do something different,” said Gwen Coyle with Angel Paws Advocates. “It is the county’s responsibility, and it’s not being addressed.”

Among the people who voiced their concerns was Deborah Dobbs, president and founder of the SPCA of East Texas.

“Our animal control officers are underpaid,” Dobbs said. “Our shelter is underfunded and understaffed. And this is a really serious problem there.”

Dobbs said she chose to attend Tuesday’s meeting because of a court hearing set for Thursday related to a recent case of animals being neglected in Troup.

“We anticipate those animals will be awarded to the county,” Dobbs said. “The problem is there’s over 20 dogs still on property that will have to be apprehended and cared for. Regretfully, there’s no one to do that. These 22 animals have kind of brought this to a head now because we literally cannot go out.”

Smith County Pct. 4 Constable Josh Joplin was involved in the Troup rescue as a courtesy after Dobbs said her calls to another precinct went unaddressed.

“A lot of law enforcement agencies in this area are so overwhelmed and so busy with other calls, they have a lot of things going on that they don’t have time to get to it, or maybe they don’t have the expertise or the knowledge on how to work those type of cases,” Joplin said.

Joplin called animal cruelty a growing problem in Smith County.

Amber Greene, supervisor of the Smith County Animal Control and Shelter, said the concerns raised in Tuesday’s meeting could be addressed with more funding and manpower.

“Normally I have four officers that work 964 square miles, and any given day we’re working 30 to 60 animal calls in a day. In just a day,” Greene said. “More funding and more staff, because that way that I can get the shelter finished out completely like it is because we’re using only about 75% of it. We still have a storage room in there that we can finish out.”

Concerns voiced to the Smith County Commissioners Court were done so during the meeting’s public comment portion, and there was no specific agenda item related to animal control, meaning no action was taken. Commissioners are set to begin budget talks at next Tuesday’s meeting.

“Until this is addressed and put on the radar of our commissioner’s court and the community raises their voices makes the Commissioners Court aware that this is an important matter and tax dollars are allocated,” Dobbs said. “This problem is just getting worse.”

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