“Yes, [I think the changes will affect Animal Control] with both more animals and higher volume in calls,” she said.
Through Elrod’s time with the agency, she has seen the small facility move from a Highway 293 location to Burnt Hickory Road before an addition expanded the building.
Eleven employees — two office clerks, four animal control officers, a kennel supervisor, two part-time kennel assistants, Elrod and an assistant director — operate on roughly $850,000 per year.
But the case volume averages almost 500 per month.
“We handle 5,800 to 6,000 animals a year,” Elrod said.
Name: Debbie Elrod
Occupation: Director Bartow County Animal Control
City of Residence: Rydal
Family: Married with four children and eight grandchildren
Education: High school
What led you into working with Animal Control?
A: We always had pets around growing up. My mom raised collies. We always had cats around the barn and a couple of horses — Cricket and Stormy. I had a friend that was working at the shelter and said they needed help, so I applied for the job and got it.
What do you see as being the largest crisis facing the animal or pet population in Bartow County?
A: People not spaying and neutering their animals. Until they understand just how important this is, it’s not going to change.
How has Animal Control evolved over your time there?
A: It started out in a small facility in front of Chemical Products, maybe eight or nine runs, a few cages and small outdoor area. In 1989 it moved to Burnt Hickory Road where we had 18 runs, a cat room and puppy room, a large outdoor area and we went from two employees to four employees. We housed animals, did adoptions, ran calls, etc. We stayed busy. Then, in 1997, we added another addition to the building giving us more runs and cages. Our commissioner also signed the first leash law ordinance into effect. Later came additional employees. We had gone from four employees to 12 employees.
In February 1998 the Humane Society got on board, and man, what a difference those folks have made! I can’t say enough about them. They do adoptions, rescues, have helped with low-cost spay and neuter programs, and cut the euthanization by 46 percent. They play a gigantic role in placing these animals we get.
What do you wish the public knew about Animal Control?
A: That we are not their enemy. We are simply trying to enforce the county ordinances that help protect and keep our citizens safe as well as their pets.
How do you deal with the emotional toll from certain aspects of your job?
A: I am always quoting the serenity prayer to myself. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” That is an everyday part of my life.
What makes Bartow County special?
A: The location and the people.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: That I currently have no pets of my own.
Are you a dog, cat or other kind of person?
A: Love them both but more dog.
What’s your favorite meal?
A: Pinto beans, fried potatoes, cole slaw and cornbread.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things could you not live without?
A: God, my family and Diet Coke.