Lawrence Co. animal shelter hot topic at commission meeting

Lawrence Co. animal shelter hot topic at commission meeting
The Lawrence County Commission held a meeting Friday to discuss the county's animal shelter (Source: WAFF staff)
The Lawrence County Commission held a meeting Friday to discuss the county's animal shelter (Source: WAFF staff)

LAWRENCE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Dozens of people showed up Friday for a Lawrence County commission meeting where commissioners discussed the county's animal services dilemma. The commission voted during the meeting to hire a temporary animal control officer while the county searches for a full time officer.

Commissioner Bobby Burch pushed for a county-run animal shelter instead of contracting the services out, as has been done in the past. Because of budget issues, Burch suggested looking at fund raising and grant money as a way to get it done. He introduced a motion to set up an account for donations that commissioners passed unanimously.

The meeting came amid a Moulton police and ASPCA investigation into the county's previous animal shelter owner, Bobbie Taylor. That investigation began after accusations of animal abuse against Taylor. Police served a search warrant on June 29 and spent several days on her property investigating.

The Lawrence County Commission terminated the county's contract with the Animal Rescue Shelter of Lawrence County as of July 1.

During the meeting, the public was allowed to make comments about the shelter situation. A few people supported Taylor, but the majority of those who spoke were not on her side.

Norma Rawlings, a Hillsboro resident, cried as she told the commission she went to Taylor's shelter seven times looking for her missing Doberman, Milo. She said each time, she was not allowed to go inside to look for Milo. Rawlings said Taylor told her the dog wasn't there. However, Rawlings said during the investigation last week, Taylor's employees told her that the dog had indeed been there, but had been sent off.

My dog was there. Where is he? He's micro chipped. He should have been scanned. He should have been returned to me. And I no longer have my dog. I don't know where he is. He could be anywhere," Rawlings said to commissioners during the public comment period.

SLIDESHOW: Conditions at the Lawrence County Animal Shelter

One man was on the agenda to give a proposal for animal services. Gene Hart proposed that the county give the contract back to Taylor. He also encouraged county commissioners Joey Hargrove and Bobby Burch to resign from their positions. Hart refused to relinquish the microphone after several requests and a Hargrove asked a Lawrence County sheriff's deputy to escort Hart from the meeting.

The committee agreed that the county would continue taking animals to the Morgan County Animal Shelter for the time being. The Lawrence County pays Morgan County $20 per animal for their services. Burch said the county needs to take control of animal services.

"We need to have our own shelter. You cannot contract out your obligations and responsibilities. This is our problem. It need to be our solution," Burch said.

Burch said the county will work with Moulton officials, adding the shelter could be built between Parker Road and Gordon Drive, near the sheriff's office. Burch said he wants a fund raising marker at the site to encourage the community to help.

"We need to have a goal. We need to have a plan. We need to have flags staked out where people can see where this shelter will be. We're going to have to, as a commission, come together as a group, as leaders, and decide what this building is going to be," Burch said.

Earlier this week, the ASPCA set up an emergency shelter at an undisclosed location in Lawrence County. Twenty-eight ASPCA workers worked to care for the more than 300 animals taken from Taylor's shelter.

On Tuesday, Taylor spoke out, saying she doesn't fear criminal charges because she did nothing wrong.

During that interview, Taylor declined more media at the advice of her attorney, but did say she's ready to defend herself against the accusations. Taylor said the truth is on her side, and that truth with be revealed soon.

She did not elaborate, but she did talk more about her side of this, as investigators spent six days executing a search warrant at the shelter.

Taylor said then that she never abused or neglected animals, that sick dogs and cats found there were sick when she took them in, and that she had them treated by a veterinarian.

She also said her animal services contract with the county mandated she could not refuse any animals, which is why so many were there.

If you think you may have a pet at the emergency shelter, you should email aspca_animal_rescue@aspca.org.

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