LAWRENCEVILLE -- A question over whether the police department should continue operating the county animal shelter has sharply divided a group appointed to review the processes of the municipal division.
"The police are the police," said Kelly Alder, a Gwinnett County Animal Task Force member in attendance at Tuesday's meeting. "Their job is code enforcement. Right now, there are officers who go to animal control just to bide their time until they retire."
Member Jon Richards disagreed.
"It makes sense for it to continue to be under the police department," said Richards, adding though, that the position of a new shelter director should be someone experienced running shelters "and not necessarily a sworn police officer."
Chairman Joel Taylor tried to guide the 17 people toward some sort of consensus to take back to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, the group's charge.
Whether or not to continue to allow the shelter to be operated by the police department as well as the role and membership of the Animal Advisory Committee were contentious points among the group.
"We owe it to the board to give them our views. We're not telling them what to do. We're recommending," Taylor said. "We should provide them with all of these views."
Recommendations could include the current animal-related ordinances and services, development of best practices and study of the role of the Animal Advisory Committee.
The animal task force's four subcommittees -- partnership, policy, program and structure -- presented all of its recommendations before the group during Tuesday's meetings, but found little common ground.
According to the county's website, the Gwinnett Police Department "operates the Animal Shelter to enforce animal control laws and to shelter animals that have strayed, gotten lost or been turned over for adoption."
The board of commissioners could review the Animal Task Force's recommendations at an upcoming meeting. The task force has until the end of April to make its presentation to the board of commissioners.
Taylor said there would likely be another meeting of the task force to make final edits and alterations to the list of recommendations prior to that.
For information about upcoming meeting dates and times, visit www.gwinnettcounty.com.