At Tuesday night’s Walton County Board of Commissioner’s meeting, it was announced that former animal control supervisor Shawn Morris has been promoted to Animal Control director. He replaces the former director Bill Wise. But Wise is not going anywhere. He is taking over a newly-created position that will enable him to concentrate more on the shelter and rescue side of his work at Animal Control.
“Upon becoming director of Walton County Animal Control in 2009, my first mission was to reduce the 70 % dog euthanasia rate. Through diagnostic tests and evaluations, photography and videos, adoption websites and rescue alerts, we were able to accomplish record low euthanasia rates of 19% for dogs and 57% for cats. But because of the technical skills and time required, I have found that maintaining those low euthanasia rates requires my constant daily attention and effort; up to 80% of my time,” Wise wrote in a letter to the rescue organizations and animal advocates that he works with.
Wise said with the increased workload and attention on animal control services, he was unable to supervise road operations, respond to daily inquiries and open records requests, manage the department personnel and budget, and continue to provide the necessary time to maintain the low euthanasia rate. So he asked for an assistent director position to take over the shelter manager and rescue coordinator position. This was granted in March. But since this was where his passion lay, he decided to apply for that position himself and let someone else take over as animal control director.
“After over two decades of managing 24/7 animal control operations, I decided to pursue my passion, strengths and gifting and applied for the new shelter manager position myself. I will now be able to dedicate 100% of my time in working with the adopters, rescues, cross-posters and sponsors that have always supported our shelter,” Wise said. “I look forward to implementing further euthanasia reduction programs as the shelter manager, and to supporting a new Animal Control Director who will be able to dedicate his or her full attention on the animal control services.”
With the appointment of Morris, who has himself been with the shelter for many years, Wise will be able to focus on reducing the euthenasia rates at the shelter. Christy Breedlove wrote an article on Wise and the Walton County Animal Shelter for the 2018 Fall Winter issue of Walton Living. In it she noted that nationwide euthenasia rates were about 56 % for dogs and 71 % for cats, according to the American Humane Society, and those numbers have not changed. That shines a positive light on the success that the Walton County Animal Control had already made since Wise joined 11 years ago. As the graph below shows, in 2018 the dog euthenasia rate was down to 23 %. Since then it has dropped another 4 %.