I recently got an insider’s tour of Dekalb County Animal Services, a relatively new facility on Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd, just outside the Doraville city line. It is an impressive, full-service operation, and the county has made fantastic strides toward its goal of making Dekalb a “no-kill” community. It’s done this through a progressive partnership with LifeLine Animal Project, which staffs the shelter both with dedicated professionals and a small army of trained volunteers—a real community effort.
This experience made me reflect on comments I’ve heard from Doraville residents; who often don’t feel well supported by our city’s lone Animal Control Officer. This position (which is part of the police department) has limited hours, no direct phone number, and a minimal presence in our community. Residents who find a stray dog or a litter of kittens are often left to handle it on their own, particularly on evenings/weekends.
Neighboring cities get their animal control services directly from Dekalb County, which has a field officer on duty around the clock. Chamblee recently eliminated its animal control officer position, saving the city approximately $75,000 a year. We may find we want to pursue this approach in Doraville as well. (If you have thoughts on this, I’d like to hear them!)
It comes down to this: Doraville can’t just keep doing things the way we always have. We need to look regionally for best practices, and make sure we’re offering real services to our residents. And we should decide whether we want to get serious about our animal control program and make it work for us, or hand it back to the county, which is doing a great job in this area. We should also update our animal ordinances to bring them more in line with Dekalb County’s policies.As your next mayor, I won’t be content with maintaining the status quo. I’m willing to have the tough conversations, and to make sure we’re spending money on programs that serve our community well.