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Committee chosen for shelter study
Answers likely in three months
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Forsyth County News


In working toward opening a county-owned animal shelter, Todd Levent said it's time for Forsyth County to look forward.

Levent and his fellow county commissioners selected a seven-member animal control and shelter advisory committee during a Thursday work session.

Levent, who will serve on it, said the plan is "to come up with a reasonable shelter that works for everybody, including the animals."

The specifics are going to take some work, but he said he's confident the committee can reach a decision in 90 days.

"Everybody knows we [need a shelter]," he said. "We've got a big future here, might as well plan for it correctly."

On Jan. 6, the commission overturned a Dec. 16 vote that had awarded the design/build of a shelter, instead deciding to form a study committee.

Commissioner Patrick Bell recommended the panel and its makeup earlier this month.

Thursday, the commission adopted his suggestions of committee representatives.

Veterinarian John McGruder was elected to serve as chairman. The group also includes: Tim Merritt, deputy county manager; Brian DeBlois, animal control; Kathy Genovese, rescue group; and Lanier Orr and Lance White, community members.

All appointments were unanimous, except for Genovese, who Commissioner Jim Boff opposed. He had suggested Bill Mulrooney with the Humane League of Lake Lanier.

Genovese is the Forsyth County Humane Society representative on the dangerous dog board, which reviews individual cases. White is also involved with the society.

Orr currently holds the county's animal shelter contract through his NALAA corporation, which receives $40,000 per month.

In early November, commissioners renewed that deal for another year. It would have expired Dec. 31.

Orr has said he would gladly step aside when the county has its own shelter.

Levent said the committee members are "anxious" and "excited" to get started.

While the meetings will be closed, Levent said he plans to invite several knowledgeable people to discuss the issues.

"First, we need to hear from the experts that run these shelters and find out things they would not do again and things they've done correctly," he said.

To Levent, the biggest challenges likely will include figuring out how to pay for the shelter and deciding who will operate it.

He would like to see the county run the shelter with the assistance of volunteer rescue groups.

"I hope ... everybody works in a positive manner and we leave the past out of it and work toward a solution," he said.