Alpena animal control gets new shelter manager, local shelters discuss how to best serve | News, Sports, Jobs

Alpena animal control gets new shelter manager, local shelters discuss how to best serve | News, Sports, Jobs

News photo by Steve Schulwitz DeeAnn Karos spends time with a dog at the Alpena County Animal Control Shelter in Alpena on Tuesday. The shelter will get a new part-time director soon.

ALPENA — Alpena County is hiring a part-time director for its animal control shelter, which will allow the animal control officer more time to investigate crimes against animals and issue citations to people who violate local laws.

The Alpena County Personnel Committee has recommended the Rapsmans be appointed to the Alpena County Board of Commissioners to oversee operations at the fairgrounds animal shelter.

The full board needs to approve the committee’s recommendation to appoint Rapsman.

Rapsman works part-time for Alpena County 911 Central Dispatch and Emergency Management, with the three entities paying a fair share of his wages, because the hours he works between departments would qualify him as a full-time county employee.

Alpena County Sheriff Eric Smith said he believes Rapsman is a great fit and will work well with the other animal technicians and volunteers who work at the facility now. Rapsman lacks some experience working with animals that often suffer trauma, but Smith said he is confident Rapsman will settle into the job just fine and work well with people who have helped run the shelter for years.

Currently, animal control officer Michelle Reed runs the shelter, but Smith said with crimes against animals on the rise in the county, she is needed more on the criminal side of the law and not for the day-to-day care of the animals.

“We get a lot of complaints about animals and we need our deputy to be available and 100% committed to animal control enforcement,” he said. “We hired a shelter manager to handle the shelter side, because she doesn’t have time to do both.

Beth Pelkey, a member of Friends of Animal Control, said the group supports the sheriff and will continue to provide support after the change in administration.

“We know Sheriff Eric is doing this for the shelter,” she said. “We want to see the shelter become a cohesive unit where we can all be there together and do the job we need to do for the animals.”

Having a shelter director who doesn’t have to worry about the law enforcement component can help build and strengthen relationships with other current and potential partners, Smith said.

Aside from the animal control shelter located at the fairgrounds, there is also the Huron Humane Society and Second Chance Animal Shelter, all in Alpena. Each shelter offers slightly different services but has its share of supporters, donors and volunteers. Working with other shelters and reaching out to them to share ideas and express concerns can benefit animals and reduce costs in the future, Smith said.

Meetings have recently been held between the county, Smith, Reed, representatives from other shelters and other stakeholders, Smith said.

Alpena Mayor Cindy Johnson, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the meetings are a good first step to becoming more involved and meeting the needs of animals, staff and facilities.

“The reason we all come to the table is to help animals and give them a second chance,” Johnson said. “We are all doing the same hard work and collaboration, and communication between us is essential.”

Johnson did not go into detail about what was discussed in the meetings or what plans are being discussed, but she said everyone needs to be on the same page and put the animals’ needs and health at the top of the priority list.

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