Last updated: December 10. 2013 9:02AM
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Amanda Moss

Staff Writer

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is set to take over animal control enforcement by the first of the year.

Rick Sago, Richmond County manager, responded to a request from the Richmond County Health Department that was made several months ago about transferring the duties of animal control enforcement.

“Our staff met with the county manager in deliberating on the issues concerning animal control,” said Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. Monday evening during the county commissioners’ monthly public meeting. “We understand that there was some concern in the animal control phase of the situation.”

The health department was concerned about its ability to respond to situations involving animal control, said Sago. Clemmons and Sago have checked with other states and counties to see how effective it would be to transfer the duties to the sheriff and have come up with positive results.

Sago said Tommy Jarrell, Richmond County health director, fully supported the move.

“The animal shelter will stay directly under the county manager,” said Sago. “The sheriff will cooperate with the shelter in anyway he can. We want to see this effective at the first of the year.”

After discussing the changes, Sago asked the Richmond County commissioners to make a motion to formally transfer the duties from the health department to the sheriff’s office. Commissioner Thad Ussery made a motion to transfer the duties with Commissioner John Garner seconding the motion. The motion passed with a 6-0 vote. Commissioner Jimmy Maske was not present at the meeting.

“I would like to thank the sheriff for considering this,” Ussery said. “I know of no other organization that would be fitting for this.”

Garner agreed with Ussery’s assessment, adding that “this will be the right move in the right direction. It will be a lot more professional and the issues will be addressed at the time of need.”

The sheriff’s office has the manpower to handle the needs of animal control, said Sago. The enforcement will be in operation at all times under the sheriff. With the shift in duties, Clemmons will ultimately decide which deputies will perform the duties under his jurisdiction.

“There will be new opportunity through news media, mailing and classes offered at the shelter to educate people on animals,” said Clemmons. “Especially for the animals that are statistically prone to biting. We do appreciate the opportunity that you would consider us in another facet of community protection.”

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