Dr. Josh Fisher, Animal Services Director for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, joined The Association’s EVP Katherine Shenar for a conversation with Jamey Cantrell, Director, Plano Animal Services. Cantrell shares how his award-winning team—twice named Agency of the Year by the Texas Animal Control Association—is navigating COVID-19.
Dr. Josh Fisher & Katherine Shenar: What’s it been like for you and your team in Texas?
Jamey Cantrell: It’s been a little surreal, honestly. Just like everybody else, we were following the disease progress in other parts of the country, and all of sudden everything here was shutting down. I talked to my city manager and said, “We can’t just shut down. That’s not what we do. We still need the ability to be able to get pets back home. We still need the ability to help injured animals.” Thankfully my city management is very supportive, and we were able to continue do what we always have done while at the same time taking precautions for staff and the public’s health.
JF&KS: How have your field operations been impacted?
JC: Initially we saw a decrease in calls for service. I think it’s because you have more people working from home, so their pets are right there with them.
We also told people that until we figure out what’s going on with the pandemic, we were going to cease trapping operations, unless there was a wild animal trapped inside a house. If the animal is out in the backyard, leave the animal alone—that helped reduce our call volume.
Now we’re starting to see a pick-up in calls about animals at large, as more and more businesses are opening and more people are going back to work.
JF&KS: We understand you recently had a cruelty case that required all hands on deck. How were you able to manage that in this COVID era?
JC: I think animal shelter workers were essential before anybody called us essential. We do what we always do–we’re all used to it. We work on Christmas, we work on Thanksgiving, there are no holidays we can just take off. No matter what the challenge is, my staff creates an environment and an atmosphere that we are here to help the animals.
For the complete interview (including Cantrell’s past experiences with the Tiger King!), watch the video here. You can also read recent coverage of Plano Animal Services in the Dallas Morning News here.
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