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Animal welfare alliance forming

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Commissioner Allison Watters is on the steering committee for the North Georgia Animal Partnership, which is holding an inaugural membership meeting next week.

Invitations have gone out to more than a dozen animal rescue and welfare groups in Floyd and surrounding counties. Plans are for the partnership to act as a central hub, providing resources and support for its members. 

"We think we can help garner grant money for these organizations," Watters said. "It's a more collective and collaborative focus."

PAWS Director Jason Broome is also on the steering committee and Rome City Commissioner Evie McNiece was involved in the start-up.

Watters said local animal advocates have been the driving force behind the creation of the alliance, but she'll be asking them to reserve seats on the board of directors for a city and county government representative.

"As a public-private partnership, it broadens the scope of animal welfare management," she said.

Floyd County's animal welfare board was created by a 1994 ordinance and is unique among neighboring communities. But the Commission's recent decision to offer low-cost sterilization and other services in the PAWS medical suite led several members connected with local veterinary clinics to resign.

"There are three vacancies now, so it's the best time to revise it if you want to," Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter told the board.

Commissioner Scotty Hancock, a former animal control director for the county, said the partnership would provide opportunities for an active community buy-in that the animal welfare board lacks.

"They're people with good intentions, but there's not a lot of participation," he said. "They mainly just listen to reports."

The discussion came during the commissioners' annual planning session this week. They agreed to abolish the welfare board after checking with Rome officials to ensure it doesn't affect the two governments' shared services agreement.

County Attorney Wade Hoyt said an ordinance amendment could be presented as early as the Commission's Tuesday meeting.