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Hancock County Commissioners Explain Shelter Takeover


“The foundation and the commission failed to reach a compromise on the contract we presented to them. They had until June 30th,” said Hancock County Commissioner Joe Barnabei.

Now that it is July 1st, we are learning the other side of the story as the commissioners take control of the Hancock County Animal Shelter.  A lot of the rumors circulating, they say just aren’t true.

The Hancock County Animal Shelter Foundation ran the shelter under a contract for nearly 20 years. That contract needed to be updated to be in line with state laws. State laws have to be followed by all commission contracts.  Commissioners say the foundation’s contract demands were not in line with state law.

7News asked commissioner Joe Barnabei when he was at the shelter Friday morning, cleaning and assessing the next steps, about some of the accusations flying around the county. 

“There was never any plan to euthanize dogs after 5 days. The law states “it shall be sold or humanely destroyed,” and our goal is to sell, adopt out, have these animals rescued,” he said. “Euthanasia only comes into play in dire emergencies such as orders to put them down or an ill dog that can effect the entire shelter, or a dog that’s so severely injured it’s not humane to keep it.”

The former shelter director didn’t think the 19 year old contract needed updated.

“They went ahead and made a whole new contract. And it was more based towards money and Euthanasia and then we asked for an extension on the bid so we could look over the contract better because we wasn’t signing that contract. It asked if the numbers and stuff get high… they’re going to put down animals and that’s not what we do there. We save the animals,” said Darryl McClellan.

Humane officer Nichole Bisick is now in charge of the shelter, and she says saving animals is still the goal.  Bisick has put together a 30 day plan which includes the potential hiring back of many former shelter workers as-well-as meeting and exceeding the standards the foundation had.

“Their Euthanasia was under 5%, which we feel is outstanding, and we will maintain that or attempt to get lower,” Barnabei added.

For the next week, the shelter will be run by volunteers.  After that, interviews for new employees will take place. The animal shelter will be staying open late on Tuesday until 7 p.m.  They encourage everyone to come out and meet the new operators. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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