Thursday, May 24, 2001

Boone shelter vies for manager

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        BURLINGTON — When Joyce Baker became a Boone County animal control officer more than 10 years ago, she did not think ordering supplies, writing quarantine reports and answering telephones would be a major part of her job.

        But then 27,402 people moved to the county and brought their pets.

        If Ms. Baker's boss, animal shelter director Becky Rider, has her way, come July 1 the agency's five animal control officers won't have to spend half their day in the office doing paperwork.

        Ms. Rider has asked Boone County Fiscal Court for a hefty increase in the budget, from the current $322,560 to $430,000.

        “We definitely need more office people,” Ms. Baker said.

        Fiscal Court doesn't have to approve its new budget until June 30, but county finance director Lisa Buerkley said a position for an office manager at the shelter is in the budget. She said the annual salary will be between $23,432 and $30,586.

        Ms. Rider said once an office manager is in, it will free the animal control officers to answer a steadily rising number of calls. She said the number rose from 1,990 in 1995 to last year's 3,279.

        Ms. Rider said stray dogs and cats comprise the bulk of the calls, but her officers have also rounded up the occasional head of cattle and other animals.

        The major reason for the increase? Boone County's increasing population, which jumped from 57,589 in the 1990 census to just under 86,000 last year.

        Ms. Rider said it's simple math. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 58 percent of all homeowners also own pets.

        “As the population increases, so do the number of animals,” Ms. Rider said.

        The number of people who call and visit the shelter has likewise increased.

        According to Ms. Rider, a total of 22,418 people phoned the shelter last year, an increase of 4,404 from 1999.

        The number of shelter visitors increased slightly, from 8,730 in 1999 to 8,899 last year.

        “We're using animal control officers to cover clerical work,” Ms. Rider said.

        She said a $38,000 chunk of the shelter budget would help her officers better get around the county. She said that money would buy a new car and van and replace vehicles that have odometer readings of more than 135,000 and 100,000 miles, respectively.


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