New AC officers ‘nice fit’

December 1, 2012

The two new hires at the Hood County Animal Control facility are still in the process of completing their training, and once that’s done the hours open to the public can be expanded.

That’s been the plan all along for Sheriff’s Office Captain A.T. Vines, who oversees Animal Control.

David Welch, a retired truck driver, and Dale Johnston, a former Air Force captain, are on track to complete Animal Control school in Weatherford this weekend. After that will come state testing, two to three months later.

They will also be required to complete Jailer School, a 96-hour course over two weeks, in order to supervise work-release inmates that are utilized at Animal Control.

The two new hires are currently certified as temporary jailers, Vines noted.

“Everyone has to be dual certified in animal control, and as jailers,” Vines said.

Vines noted that in the Air Force, Johnston flew tankers that refueled jets during the Vietnam War. Johnston earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business while in the service, Vines said. He retired from his post-military career after working 32 years for AT&T in the Metroplex.

Vines said Welch has been familiar with animals his whole life. Most recently, he worked in security at Pecan Plantation, Vines said.

“It’s just awesome. It’s so great,” Vines said of finding two employees with the qualifications of Welch and Johnston. “They appear to be excellent employees. They are going through their training at a very good pace. It’s been a nice fit. You’ve got to have love and compassion for animals.”

The target for the extended hours is projected to have the facility stay open until 7 p.m. two nights per week, Vines said. Currently, the hours remain 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Vines said it will be at least March before late hours will go into effect.

Animal Control will also soon fill the spot vacated by Jennifer Fields, who has worked for the Sheriff’s Office for about seven years and will be studying to become an RN.

Vines said that off-site adoption days at various locations in the community, sponsored directly by Animal Control, are suspended from November through February.

One change being made at Animal Control involves having the new hires coming in early for the daily cleaning chores, plus switching feeding time from the morning to the afternoon. Vines said that will make visits by the public more pleasant in terms of animal odors.

The next step will be construction of Hood County’s Animal Control facility that has been approved. It will be on Weatherford Highway north of Granbury, where Hood County’s brush yard is currently located.

The current facility, at 240 Bray St., just west of Granbury off of Highway 377 West, was not built for the purpose of being the animal control site, and has no room to expand. It only has 12 kennels for dogs and 18 for cats, and is “always full,” Vines said.

“We hope to have 125 kennels all together,” Vines said of the new home, which he hopes will be ready in “less than a year.”

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