The City of Wharton Animal Control Department (WACD) is one of the city’s lowest cost to the citizens of Wharton; however, the one-man operation has a big impact on the welfare of Wharton animals.
According to the City of Wharton, under the direction of the Wharton Police Department, the WACD is responsible for all aspects of animal care, including enforcement of state law and city ordinances, impoundment of animals, care and feeding of animals until they are returned to their owners, adopted or euthanasia.
The department’s $66,266 budget, a mere 0.44% of the $15 million 2019-20 City of Wharton budget include: $56,173 for personnel and benefits; $2,200 for supplies and materials; $1,500 infrastructure maintenance; $500 for vehicle maintenance; and $5,900 for operational expenses.
During the city’s first 2020-21 Budget Workshop on June 23, WPD Chief of Police Terry Lynch presented the 5-year WACD requested funds to city council members.
“Everybody knows that we have a one-man-army there,” Lynch said. “It’s amazing that (Animal Control Officer Scott Wallace) comes out and shows up to work every single day. The man had more than 2,000 calls last year by himself. I am always asking for additional personnel. He’s got a 5-year-old dodge pickup. It’s almost got 100,000 miles on it. Imagine putting 100,000 miles just rolling around this town.”
The police chief presented to council the possibilities of adding a surveillance system to the Wharton pound and expanding the facilities, as well as adding an officer, explaining each would be beneficial to the current operation and current partnership with a local rescue organization.
“I have asked the council to consider adding an additional animal control officer to assist Scott in his duties,” Lynch told The County Gin. “He is a one-man operation that handled more than 2,000 dispatched calls for service last year. He is a truly dedicated employee who does a great job. A second ACO could potentially carry the workload burden through the weekend for 7-day a week coverage. Having a community partnership with Friends of Wharton Animal Control (FoWAC) eases the workload for Scott (Wallace).
“FoWAC manages the adoption process for most of the animals that are brought into the pound. Some of these animals are given second chances for better lives with loving homes. Many are transported out of state. Most people have no idea of the size of the operation that the city and FoWAC facilitate. Although minimally budgeted by the city, FoWAC funding through their non-profit donations, covers the adoption and transportation process. We are currently exploring the expansion of our current location within the next few years.”
The explored expansion of the facility could mean the city utilizing the vacant building alongside the current pound facilities.
“The one thing to look at is the shelter expansion. Mr. Garza and I had a conversation about the potential to expand using the existing building there at the Alamo Lumber company,” Lynch told council. “(The building) could be repurposed with a little concrete and bring it up to code in the sense of the outside appearance and make it sound. That could be utilized in the shelter area. (The pound) is maxed out on a regular basis.”
Lynch told The Gin that if the requests to council aren’t approved for this year, he is still confident in the work of Wallace along with FoWAC, saying, “each effort is being made to try to save as many animals as we can.”
“I again want to commend our ACO Scott Wallace, partnered with the tireless and dedicated members of FoWAC, with ensuring that this operation is successful with the resources that we have.”
Lynch and other city department heads will continue discussions concerning the 2020-21 budget at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 20 at the planned Wharton City Council special meeting and budget workshop.