Updating a job description might seem routine and not a cause for controversy, but such was the case for the position of Marshall County Animal Control Officer.
During a regular meeting Wednesday, Sept. 22, the County Commission discussed updating the job description of the Animal Control Officer (ACO) to Animal Control Supervisor, with additional duties regarding the staff and operations at the county animal shelter.
“Animal Control is the only department where the job description has not been approved,” District 3 Commissioner Lee Sims said. “Every department needs a supervisor.”
Sims said the animal control officer was originally formed as a supervisory position, but at that time, there was no other employee to supervise until an animal shelter technician was hired. With the update to the job description, the shelter technician will report to the animal control officer, now supervisor, who will report to the County Commission.
Other updates to the position include job functions regarding scheduling, evaluating employee performance, recommending disciplinary action as needed, regular attendance at the shelter and ability to supervise subordinate staff. The requirement to be certified as an animal control handler was removed.
Before voting to approve the job description, several concerned citizens voiced opposition to the changes. Patty Turner, the newest member of the Marshall County Animal Advocates board, formally addressed the commission asking why they would do this now after, apparently, some people had complained about the current ACO Kevin Hooks.
“After all the complaints received about this employee [Hooks], is the commission really willing to entertain this idea?” she said. “Currently, this ACO refuses to take an active or supportive role in the animal shelter or any aspect of supervising.”
Sims said he has received letters of complaints and was aware of alleged misconduct by Hooks as ACO, but he had not yet been shown any proof. Regardless, he said the issue at hand was about the job description itself and not about the current position holder.
“We’re going to be approving a position, not a person,” he said.
Later in the meeting, MCAA director Kay Johnson said she agreed that, for the issue at hand, it didn’t matter who held the position. Rather, she said did not think the animal control officer should be made supervisor since the shelter and animal control are two separate departments, in her opinion. She also recommended they wait to adjust any job descriptions until the shelter is renovated and they have a better idea of what new jobs or duties will be needed.
“I think it’s premature to start changing animal control because this job description lists several things under it that don’t fall under animal control; they would fall under an animal shelter director, but you can’t put them under that because that doesn’t exist yet,” she said.
District 1 Commissioner Ronny Shumate pushed back a bit on the idea that animal control and the shelter are two separate entities.
“You couldn’t have a [shelter] technician if you didn’t have animal control,” he said. “Animal control brings the animals in and the technician takes care of them.”
Johnson responded by saying that animal control typically deals more with law enforcement while the shelter operates like its own business.
The commission ended up approving the updated description with a vote of 3-1, with District 2 Commissioner Rick Watson dissenting.