These days, pound puppies at the Page County Animal Shelter have it pretty good. The county has cleaned up its act in recent months.
"Clearly, the county didn't pay the attention to it that it should have. We hope to change that," says Page County Administrator Jerry Schiro.
A new administrator, new shelter workers and a fresh coat of paint have done wonders for the problem-plagued pound. So has the state's investigation into shelter dogs allegedly being shot to death by uncertified animal control officers.
Tuesday, Schiro met with the Virginia Department of Agriculture to discuss a consent order, which would end that investigation.
"What it does, it says, "We admit we did these things improperly and we won't do it again,"" he says.
Schiro could not comment on the details of that meeting, but he said it could impact the employment of animal control officer Terry Dodson. Dodson is on paid administrative leave until the pending investigation is complete.
The consent order could impact the way taxpayer money is spent. The State Veternarian Board has issued $138,000 in fines for the county. By admitting its guilt and spending $30,000 to improve the current shelter, the county could escape all but $1,000 of that penalty.
To avoid further problems, the Page County Sheriff's Department has just taken over animal enforcement.
"We're going to try to improve the quality of life for the animals as well as the owners of those animals," says Sheriff Daniel Presgraves.
A better life for strays will be possible when a new shelter is completed near the Page County Technical Center next summer.
"They're going to have an animal shelter this county is very proud of," says Schiro.
The county is also working on unifying its animal ordinances and cracking down on dog tag, leash and kennel license laws.