An Open Letter To The Davidson County Commissioners Re: The Davidson County Animal Shelter
There is a serious problem in Davidson County, North Carolina. Of course, as with most serious problems, there are many
roots: The lack of owners who care enough to spay or neuter their pets; the throw-away attitude many people have regarding companion animals; the complete lack of humane education in rural communities.
All of these things have contributed to the problem.
Still, the central part of this problem revolves around the Davidson County Animal Shelter.
Davidson County Animal Shelter has been in the news more than a few times in recent months. At issue are the county’s
continuing use of a gas chamber; the grossly disproportionate euthanasia rates; the lack of initiative on the part of shelter
staff to work with rescue groups or potential adopters; and the repeated assertion of shelter director Judy Lanier that the
problems at the shelter are, in fact, “non-issues.”
My belief, as a person who does not live in Davidson County – someone who is viewing the issue from the outside, so to speak –
is that the problems with the Davidson County Animal Shelter ARE an issue, and that further, Judy Lanier is a large contributing
factor to this issue.
The Davidson County Commissioners have recently been listening to their constituents – which isn’t something they’ve been
known to do in the past. A recent article in The Dispatch even indicated that Sheriff Grice wants the shelter moved out of the
Davidson County Sheriff Department’s control. Sheriff Grice was quoted as saying he “no longer wants that responsibility.”
Why, Sheriff Grice – isn’t that a change of heart! Weren’t you the one who appointed Judy Lanier as shelter director?
As a matter of fact, aren’t you the one who created the position especially for her? Wasn’t it general knowledge amongst
county employees that the position was created for Judy Lanier, and that in spite of her lack of qualifications, she would be the
only applicant considered, no matter who applied? Aren’t you the one who made sure she got a higher salary than any
shelter employee – including Animal Control Officers – has ever been paid in Davidson County? Aren’t you the one who’s
done everything you can to protect her position, going so far as to draft a budget that would render her virtually untouchable?
And as far as that goes – Doesn’t Davidson County have a policy against appointing romantic relations to positions in the
If not, they should.
This writer’s humble opinion on the matter is that the Davidson County Animal Shelter needs to be taken out of the control of
the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office – and that Judy Lanier should be removed from her position as shelter director immediately.
Any person who refers to a line of dead animals strewn along a busy county highway as a “non-issue” has no business holding the fates of living animals in her hands. Any person who considers the high euthanasia rates
“non-newsworthy” does not deserve to be responsible for life and death decisions. Any person who considers the victims of the
Davidson County Animal Shelter “only animals” needs to take a step back and reevaluate her own humanity.
The previously referenced article further quoted Commissioner Sam Watford as indicating the shelter is in better shape than it
was twelve years ago. This writer has to wonder – On what is Commissioner Watford basing this assertion? Twelve years ago,
the combined euthanasia rate for dogs and cats at the Davidson County Animal Shelter was 90%, and the adoption rate was
5%. Twelve years ago, the shelter staff went out of their ways to work with rescue groups. One year ago, the combined
euthanasia rate for dogs and cats was 81% and the adoption rate was 11% – still unacceptable! And today’s Davidson County
Animal Shelter is notorious for not being very cooperative with rescue groups. I for one fail to see the “considerable”
Commissioner Steve Jarvis complimented Forsyth County’s record of shelter/volunteer cooperation. Commissioner Jarvis, let
me just point out that the director of the Forsyth County Animal Shelter cares not only about the animals in his charge, but also
about his reputation and the reputation of the shelter… Which brings me back to Judy Lanier, who obviously DOES NOT CARE
– she doesn’t care about the animals, and she doesn’t care about her reputation, and she most assuredly doesn’t care about
the shelter’s reputation – or that of Davidson County.
Perhaps the Davidson County Commissioners should take a page from Surry County’s book. One year ago, Surry County
Animal Shelter had a 78% combined euthanasia rate and a 7% combined adoption rate. One year ago, Surry County Animal
Shelter Director Gary Brown, under the pressure of negative publicity, public outcry, and general public dissatisfaction,
tendered his resignation. It seems to this writer that things in Surry County have improved substantially since Mr. Brown’s
Maybe it’s time for Davidson County and Judy Lanier to follow Surry County’s lead. If she won’t resign, fire her. After all, in the
end, is making sure that Sheriff Grice’s appointee is ensured job security worth the national negative publicity that is descending
on Davidson County?
If this writer was responsible for PR for Davidson County, her humble opinion would be… NO. Absolutely NOT.