After receiving a report Tuesday morning about the Bibb County animal shelters successes over the past year, Commissioner Lonzy Edwards blasted Commissioner Joe Allen over remarks Allen made last week about the shelter and its staff.
Though he never specifically referred to Allen by name, Edwards said he felt anger and outrage over critical remarks Allen made about how Animal Welfare Director Sarah Tenon is running the shelter. Allen was critical of Tenon and the shelter after a resident recently adopted shelter puppy died of parvo earlier this month.
Edwards accused Allen of grandstanding for political gain and overstepping his authority as a commissioner by directly interfering with county workers.
I dont know that Ive ever been angrier than when I saw what a commissioner said about Sarah Tenon, Edwards said. Someone owes Sarah Tenon and her staff an apology. We have one commissioner who has tried to ride his way into office on the backs of dogs and cats.
Allen is among those running to be the first mayor of the consolidated Macon-Bibb County government.
No commissioner has the authority to give directions to an employee, Edwards said. If John Q. Public did what the commissioner did, Id hope the director would call the sheriff.
Tenons report presented to commissioners shows adoptions are up and euthanizations are down since July 1, 2012, when the county took over the facility from the city of Macon.
Tenon said 308 animals were adopted during the countys first year of operating the shelter, compared with 164 the previous year. The county euthanized 763 animals, compared with 995 the previous year, according to Tenons report. The number of animals pulled from the shelter by rescue groups was down slightly from the previous year, with 851 rescues over the past year compared with 907 the previous year.
Tenon said the county is slowly reducing the animal population through its education programs and a grant for spaying/neutering dogs in the 31201 ZIP code.
We are seeing a leveling off or decrease in the number of younger pets handled through the shelter and are very optimistic that the availability of spay-neuter programs throughout the community is having a positive effect, Tenon wrote in the report. In addition to the countys PetSmart grant for the 31201 ZIP code, she also mentioned community programs such as Heart of Georgia Humane Societys program to spay female pit bulls. And earlier this year Tenon praised the local nonprofit Saving Animals From Euthanasia, which offers low-cost spaying and neutering for dogs and cats.
Tenon said the shelter frequently works with rescue groups, volunteers and local veterinarians in an effort to help keep the stray pet population in Bibb County manageable.
Steve Layson, the countys chief administrative officer, noted that the shelters management has been criticized over the past year by local animal rescue advocates, especially through social media outlets. He said the numbers presented in the report prove the county has done a good job with its responsibilities.
Sarah Tenon has been crucified on Facebook, he said. But facts are facts. A year ago, the shelter was full of roaches, and it stunk.
Allens criticism of the shelter last week came about during a news conference held by Irving Martinez, who adopted a puppy from the shelter that died two days later from parvo. Allen went to the shelter to investigate what happened.
During that news conference, Allen said: The commissioners and the CAO need to do their due diligence. I dont think we have the right person in the (directors) job.
Martinez addressed the commissioners during Tuesday nights regular board meeting, reiterating what happened in his case. Commission Chairman Sam Hart replied that the commissioners have full confidence in Tenon. He said she made the right call in closing the shelter and euthanizing five puppies that may have been exposed to parvo.
Earlier in the day, Allen said he answers to his constituents and will continue to talk to department heads and county employees when he feels its necessary.
(Edwards) has a right to his opinion, Allen said. This is not about him or what I did. This is about politics. Im in a state of wondering why they are making it political. Ive always done this. ... I will continue to do what Ive done for 18 years, and thats represent the people.
Edwards said after the meeting that commissioners need to follow the rules when it comes to dealing with staff by communicating through Layson.
The committee voted for Layson to draft letters of commendation to the shelter staffs personnel files for the work theyve done.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.