Franklin County addresses animal shelter staff shortage

Franklin County addresses animal shelter staff shortage

Dogs wait for adoption at the Franklin County Animal Shelter. Laura Browne | Restoration NewsMedia

LOUISBURG — Limited staffing at the Franklin County Animal Shelter has led to a three-hour window for adoption, and occasional employee absences may take animal control officers away from their duties to fill in at the shelter, a shelter employee said. 

“Our bottom line is, legally, we have to care for these animals, so we close down so that the animals can be fed for our malnourished animals, medications for our sick animals and every dog goes outside, as well as any new animal that comes in, we have to do intakes,” said Courtney Lockey, who works at the shelter. 

The adoption hours for the Franklin County Animal Shelter span noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This three-hour window, in a petition filed on Aug. 16, was criticized as inaccessible. The petition demands new leadership within the Animal Services department.

“We’re frustrated because communication is minimal, and they’re only open from 12 to 3, Monday through Saturday, the same hours that most people are working, so they can’t get to the shelter to adopt the animals,” said Carla Roshitsh, who created the petition, which now has over 1,500 signatures. 

The three-hour long adoption period allows staff more time to tend to animals in their care, Lockey said. 

Lockey said animals already in the shelter remain a priority, which is why animal control officers are pulled from the streets to help when staffing is short. “That, in turn, causes another problem,” Lockey said.

When animal control officers are busy working in the shelter, they may miss calls to deal with animals or other duties, Lockey said.

“At the end of the day, our bottom line is caring for the animals for what they have to have done. That is what our legal requirement is,” Lockey said.

Franklin County is making efforts to combat the low staffing in the shelter, said James Hicks, public information officer for Franklin County. Franklin County commissioners voted Aug. 21 to approve a request from the county manager to add two new part-time shelter attendants and a 5% pay increase to the Animal Services department.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners also approved a new administrative support specialist position in animal services — recommended to begin Jan. 1, 2024 — in the budget for fiscal 2023-24.

County leadership is considering expanding adoption hours, Hicks said.

Lockey said she believes the new positions will help relieve problems, such as using animal control officers to fill in gaps. 

Now, an animal control officer position remains available with interviews taking place, Lockey said. A part-time employee in the shelter recently went full-time, leaving that part-time position open, Lockey said.

The Wake Weekly toured the Franklin County Animal Shelter the morning of Aug. 30. Animals appeared to have sufficient food, water and space. Dogs are given time to roam and play in an enclosed outdoor space. Cats are given a playroom to exercise and socialize.

Excrement was seen inside several dog cages, though The Weekly visited while cages and surrounding areas were cleaned.

Roshitsh said her petition was created to demand a new animal services manager. Roshitsh said there remains a lack of accessibility and transparency in shelter operations.

Roshitsh also highlighted what she calls a “conflict of interest,” because the Animal Services manager, Lynn Bowling, is the daughter of Franklin County Commissioner Roxanne Bragg. 

Franklin County’s chain of command places the county commissioners in charge of the county manager, who oversees the assistant county manager, who oversees Animal Services. Roshitsh said this means Bowling essentially works for her mother. 

Bowling could not be immediately reached for comment.

Roshitsh said there’s little communication between the shelter and area rescues, like hers, Paws For Life. But, Lockey said, various animal rescues are notified via phone, email or a Facebook chat thread when animals are in need of adoption. 

“Franklin County values its partnership with animal rescues, and the county appreciates the time and dedication that rescues spend to save and re-home animals,” Hicks said.

Roshitsh still said she believes communication between the shelter and rescues isn’t where it should be.

Another issue, Roshitsh said, involves people wishing to adopt animals who aren’t allowed to meet them all at once. Shelter employees instead ask that people who want to adopt complete a form stating their needs and preferences for a pet and bring them a recommended animal, one by one. Roshitsh said she isn’t against the animal shelter or its workers, but rather simply wants a change in leadership. 

Roshitsh also said she thinks the department is moving backward; it removed Facebook photo and video albums of animals available for adoption. 

The animal shelter still posts photos and videos of animals available on its Facebook page, but it does not collect them in an accessible album. Instead, a list of available animals is posted to the shelter’s website. Hicks said information and pictures on available animals can be shared to social media.

Franklin County addresses animal shelter staff shortage

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