Don’t let the big dog hunt just yet

“Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my!”

-- Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

It didn’t take Bibb County long to act after taking over the Animal Control Department on Sunday from the city to address some shelter concerns. The department been renamed. It’s now the Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare Department. Staff adjustments should make the kennel, which houses 80 dogs and 20 cats, cleaner. Unfortunately, the space available is not nearly enough.

The emphasis, according to Commissioner Lonzy Edwards, will shift from outside the shelter to inside. The interim director Deborah Biggs reorganized the staff by eliminating two vacant animal control officer positions and created a senior animal shelter attendant position along with three part-time animal shelter attendant positions. Previously there were six full-time animal control officers but just a single animal shelter assistant. Edwards is hoping the shelter will be able to extend its hours to include Saturdays.

However, there is a difference in philosophy among commissioners as to what the shelter should and shouldn’t do. Edwards believes the shelter should limit itself to dogs and cats. Commissioner Elmo Richardson is in favor of expanding the shelter’s role to include other animals. The mission statement does allow the department to work with other agencies such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Until the shelter gets on its feet and stabilizes the dogs and cats that come into its care, requiring county employees, who aren’t trained to handle the plethora of wildlife -- from bears to wild boar to alligators -- is a bit much and would lead to an expense the county may not be ready to bear (no pun intended).

-- Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board