Tempers Flared, But Some Good Dialogue at Forum On Animal Shelter

SALISBURY, N.C. – Rowan County Manager Aaron Church got an earful from the 50 or so people who showed up to talk about the county animal shelter at a public forum Tuesday night at the County Admin. Building.

One woman told him, “I need you to help me feel better about you, OK? We have had several complaints to animal control that were not even returned.”

Another told him, “You dropped the ball and buried it.”

A third asked him, “The day after what happened to Cooper (a cat injured while in the shelter’s care), 9 cats were killed, why… (inaudible)” He replied, “If you take 354 and divide it by two, the number is six.” She replied, “You’re not getting it. You’re not getting it!”

Cooper’s foster Debbie Orbison says, “Who actually made the call for the 9 or 12 (cats) to be killed (the day after Cooper was injured)?” Church replied, “Ma’am, I cannot discuss personnel with you.” Amidst groans from the audience, he added, “That is my answer!”

But Bob Pendergrass, the newly appointed Animal Services Director, got a round of applause.

The forum was a product of what happened to Cooper the cat. The animal’s jaw was broken while it was at the shelter last month. Pendergrass told the audience, “I have no qualms about hearing anybody’s criticisms or suggestions.”

Outside the forum, Orbison told WCCB News @ Ten anchor Morgan Fogarty, “I don’t think it coulda got any worse!” She continues, “I think Bob Pendergrass is gonna be wonderful.”

It’s Aaron Church people still seem displeased with, including the shelter’s former vet tech, who says she quit recently because of a disagreement with Church. Jamie Stivers says, “Absolutely. All decisions come down from the top, so anything (that might change) is going to have come from change at the top.”

The county has budgeted for a shelter veterinarian. The job posting is now up. And Pendergrass tells WCCB he’s reviewing shelter policies, he’s ordered a new piece of equipment to keep animals safe while they’re being handled and he says he wants to implement an expanded volunteer program.