Kent County Animal Shelter becomes its own department

Grand Rapids (Wood), Mich. — The Kent County Animal Shelter and Animal Control Department is changing departments.

The animal shelter will no longer be managed by the Kent County Health Department. Instead, it will become a separate county-level department. In a news release, the county said the change will allow the health department to “be more focused on human health.”

The animal shelter will remain focused on the care, shelter and feeding of lost and abandoned animals in the county, the statement said.

The Kent County Animal Control Center will be reassigned and managed by a specially trained team from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office because “the operation is primarily a law enforcement function,” the release said.

“These decisions are data-driven and reflect national best practices in animal welfare and public safety,” said Kent County Executive Al Vanderberg.

On June 9, the county board voted to create and fund three full-time animal control department directors in the sheriff’s office. While these employees will not be able to make arrests, when there is reason to believe a crime has occurred, the sheriff’s deputies in the Control Unit can make arrests.

“With these changes, animal control operations will be led by sworn law enforcement officers trained to provide oversight and protect due process in rapidly unfolding legal and civil rights matters,” Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said in a statement .

Kent County is reminding residents that you should call 911 if you have an animal emergency, such as an animal attacking a person or a pet in immediate danger. If you find a stray dog, have been bitten by a dog, or want to report suspected animal cruelty or neglect, you should contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Department for scheduling at 616.632.7310.

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