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Kent County will soon restructure the way it handles its animal shelter and animal control operations.

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The County says the changes are data-driven and reflect nationwide best practices in animal welfare and public safety. 

Kent County will soon restructure the way it handles its animal shelter and animal control operations.

In a news release, the County says the changes are data-driven and reflect nationwide best practices in animal welfare and public safety.  Starting July first, ` the animal shelter will move out from under the Kent County Health Department and will be structured as a stand-alone county department reporting directly to the administration. At the same time, animal control operations will be reassigned to a dedicated, specially trained team at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

Kent County Administrator Al Vanderberg says, quote, “Best practices in animal welfare and animal control are Kent County’s top priority in restructuring these operations."

To prepare for these changes, the Sheriff’s Office is developing a new Kent County Animal Control Ordinance to replace the Kent County Health Department Animal Control Regulations that have been on the books for over 20 years.

With the new ordinance, if a Kent County resident encounters an animal emergency such as an animal attacking a person, or a pet is in immediate danger – they should call 911. Otherwise, calls should go to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department dispatch… for things like encountering stray dogs or dog bites.

With the restructuring the Kent County Animal Shelter will maintain primary responsibility for the care, shelter and feeding of lost and abandoned animals in Kent County.

Following the restructuring, County administration and the animal shelter will explore the possibility of establishing a foundation and “friends group” to increase financial and volunteer support for the shelter.

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.