Chairwoman of Animal Control Advisory Committee resigns
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Oct 01, 2013 | 5394 views |  0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A dog at the Calhoun County Animal Control Center. (Anniston Star file photo)
A dog at the Calhoun County Animal Control Center. (Anniston Star file photo)
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At least two members of the Calhoun County Animal Control Advisory Committee resigned today, accusing the County Commission of trying to sell the Animal Control Center or hire an agency to take over operations.

Commissioners said, however, while they have discussed cost-saving measures at the center, no decisions have been made about the future of animal control for the county.

Janet Odom, former chairwoman of the Advisory Committee, handed the commission her resignation this morning, and said five other members of the eight-person committee were resigning as well. Odom had been a member of the committee since its creation by the commission in January of 2012 to oversee the Animal Control Center after accusations of animal abuse were directed at the facility.

John Wippler confirmed to The Star he resigned as well, but attempts to reach the other members today were unsuccessful.

“We have no trust or faith in you to do what is best for the citizens of this county or the animals at the control center, or its employees,” Odom said in a prepared statement to the commission. “Due to the actions of certain commissioners, we feel that their integrity has been compromised, and we do not wish to be tainted by such actions.”

Odom said by phone today the committee had become a way for the commission to deflect criticism about the Animal Control Center, and said she no longer felt the committee had individual commissioners’ support.

Calhoun County Administrator Ken Joiner said he did not know if the other six members of the Advisory Committee were resigning, and that it was too early to tell if the commission would disband the committee.

Commission Chairman Rudy Abbott said the commission had received “two or three” offers, but there had been no decisions made about selling the center.

“We’re trying to find ways to save money,” Abbott said. “And if we get an offer that’s good, and we can take the Animal Control Center off the budget, we’re going to do what’s best for the county.”

Joiner said the budget for the Animal Control Center for the fiscal year is about $220,000 of the county’s $15.8 million total expenditures.

Wippler said Abbott’s comments go against everything the commission has told him since the committee was set up nearly two years ago.

“All we hear is how we’re doing a great job, and how much the center has improved by leaps and bounds since we took over,” Wippler said.

Wippler said Odom informed him last week that the commission intended to sell the center or let Jane Cunningham, an Anniston insurance agent, take over operations, and he made the decision to resign.

Commissioner Don Hudson said the commission had discussions with Cunningham, but no decision had been made about selling the center. He referred all further questions about animal control to Rudy Abbott.

Cunningham said she could neither confirm nor deny she had been in talks with the commission about purchasing the center, but did say she had spoken with commissioners about complaints she had with the Advisory Committee. She declined to discuss those complaints with a reporter on today.

“The commission is just trying to figure out the best way to do things,” Cunningham said about her discussion with commissioners.

The Animal Control Center hasn’t been a stranger to controversy and criticism, and an initial investigation into animal abuse at the shelter led to the formation of the committee in January of 2012. Wippler and Odom said the committee has been subject to criticism from residents and rescue groups who have opposed a $25 adoption fee instituted in March.

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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