Veterinarian, surgical suite could be coming to Animal Services

At Tuesday’s Moore County Board of Commissioners meeting, the commissioners voiced their support for a new initiative proposed by the Moore County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services. The plan involves adding an in-house surgical suite and hiring a full-time veterinarian, which takes considerable steps toward lowering euthanasia rates, adoption costs, and the return of microchipping adoptable pets.

At the meeting, County Manager Wayne Vest praised the Sheriff’s Office Animal Services for their outstanding work in sheltering animals and engaging with the community by taking calls and promptly picking up strays.

Sheriff Ronnie Fields attended the meeting and took the podium to recount his recent work with the Animal Welfare section of the N.C. Department of Agriculture. After touring multiple animal services facilities across the state, it was initially proposed that Moore County Animal Services could construct a larger facility to house more animals.

However, the team soon realized that adding an in-house surgical suite and hiring a full-time veterinarian could improve animal welfare at the Carthage shelter.

By providing on-site veterinary care, animals would no longer need to be transported to external facilities, which can be as stressful for the animal as it is costly for Animal Services.

Commissioner Chair Nick Picerno outlined the multiple advantages of this project, namely that it could potentially lower the cost of adopting animals while also providing better care to animals housed at the facility.

“Eliminating transportation and bringing the funds in-house could lower the cost of adoption,” he noted. Additionally, he verified that the surgical suite would allow for the reinstatement of microchipping services for the community.

Fields confirmed that Picerno was correct. “Yes, we can lower the cost to our citizens,” he answered.

The plan includes hiring a full-time veterinarian with a competitive salary and a comprehensive benefits package ranging from $120,000 to $130,000 annually. However, this investment is considered worthwhile, given its benefits and the money saved on transporting animals and external care.

“Reducing euthanasia rates, adding microchipping, adding a job, providing better care for the animals … It pays for itself,” said Picerno. “Does anyone see anything negative to this? The cost looks like it recoups itself. I think this is something that is a high priority, and we should get it done.”

Commissioner Jim Von Canon joined the discussion and pointed out additional benefits Fields did not mention. According to Von Canon, local high schools have begun introducing veterinary tech programs, which could open the doorway for partnerships with Animal Services.

Von Canon, an animal enthusiast who has previously stated that he “loves animals more than some people I know,” also advocates for better educating residents about spaying and neutering. “People need to understand how important spaying and neutering are,” he said. “It cuts back on euthanasia.”

None of the commissioners objected to Picerno’s enthusiasm to move forward and permit Animal Services to begin creating a plan. The proposal will be further discussed in the next agenda to determine the financial allocation and the steps needed to proceed.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Assistant Editor Abegail Murphy. Photo by Sandhills Sentinel reporter Daniel Gwyn.

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