County restructures animal shelter and operations

Posted June 17, 2022.

Changes reflect best practices in animal welfare and public safety

Grand Rapids, Michigan (June 14, 2022) Kent County will soon restructure its animal shelters and animal control operations. On July 1, the animal shelter will leave the Kent County Health Department and be structured as a stand-alone county department reporting directly to government. At the same time, animal control operations will be reassigned to a dedicated and specially trained team at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

“Best animal welfare and animal control practices are Kent County’s top priority in restructuring these operations,” Kent County Administrator Al Vanderberg said. “We consulted with subject matter experts and community members and commissioned extensive research into county-level animal shelters and animal control operations before recommending these changes. These decisions are data-driven and reflect national best practices for animal welfare, as well as public safety.

Kent County Animal Control

Animal control will be reassigned to the sheriff’s office as these operations are largely law enforcement. The team will be led by certified law enforcement officers, including a KCSO Law Enforcement Division Lieutenant and two Law Enforcement Division Sergeants who will oversee day-to-day operations and the staff. Staff will include a civilian animal control supervisor and civilian special deputies who will be supported by community outreach, media relations and training staff already at the sheriff’s office.

At a June 9 meeting, the Kent County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved recommendations from its Legislative and Human Resources Committee and Finance and Physical Resources Committee to create and fund the three supervisors to full time animal control unit at the sheriff’s office.

“For years, KCSO officers have worked cooperatively with Kent County Animal Control Officers in response to calls and to carry out the law enforcement aspects of these operations,” the sheriff said. of Kent County, Michelle LaJoye-Young. “With these changes, animal control operations will be led by sworn law enforcement officers trained to provide oversight and protect due process in fast-moving legal and civil rights matters.”

While Animal Control Officers will be civilian positions and will not have arrest authority, Certified Animal Control Unit Sheriff’s Deputies will have the authority to make arrests when appropriate. to believe that a crime has been committed.

To prepare for these changes, the Sheriff’s Office is developing a new Kent County Animal Control Ordinance to replace Kent County Health Department Animal Control Regulations that have been in effect for more than 20 years. year. Beginning July 1, the new ordinance will apply anywhere in the county where local city, township or village ordinances are not already in place. Existing local ordinances will replace the Kent County Animal Control Ordinance.

How and when to contact animal control

If a Kent County resident encounters an animal emergency – an animal is attacking a person or a pet is in immediate danger – they should call 911. Otherwise, residents should call the Kent County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher at (616) 632-7310 if they encounter a stray dog, in the event of a dog bite, or to report a suspected case of animal cruelty or neglect.

Kent County Animal Shelter

With the restructuring announced today, Kent County Animal Shelter will retain primary responsibility for the care, housing and feeding of lost and abandoned animals in Kent County. The change of direct reporting to administration will allow the Kent County Health Department to focus more exclusively on human health.

“Our mission has not changed. We remain very focused on reuniting pets with their families and finding new, safe and loving homes for animals when needed,” said Kent County Animal Shelter Director Angela Hollinshead. “We appreciate the help many community leaders and animal welfare agencies have provided in support of this mission and the animals in our care over the past few years. We look forward to working with these leaders and organizations. to formalize and increase community support in the coming months.”

Following the restructuring, the county administration and the animal shelter will explore the possibility of creating a foundation and a “group of friends” to increase financial and volunteer support for the shelter.

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