Butler County to dissolve Dog Warden’s Office

Sheriff’s Office will take over operations in what officials say is cost-saving measure.

The Butler County Dog Warden’s Office will dissolve later this year and become part of the Sheriff’s Office, likely leaving at least one of the warden’s current employees without a full-time job.

County Commissioners voted last week to name Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones the county’s dog warden, a role currently assumed by Chief Dog Warden Julie Holmes. The move, which will take place Sept. 29, means Jones will oversee the office and its employees, according to County Administrator Charlie Young. The sheriff’s office already dispatches calls for the dog warden’s office.

The county spends $418,000 annually, mostly money collected from dog licensing fees, on catching strays and impounding them at the Animal Friends Humane Society in Hamilton, Young said. Folding the dog warden’s office into the sheriff’s office will allow the county to save $50,000 on personnel and operations costs, he said.

Any savings realized from the consolidation will be put toward dog warden and impounding efforts, County Commissioner Don Dixon said Tuesday.

“The intent is there will be a staff of people dedicated to (animal issues),” Young said. “It will all be under one umbrella.”

The Dog Warden’s Office currently has a staff of four people, and the sheriff’s office also houses an employee who works on dog investigations. County Commissioner Don Dixon said he suspects at least one position to be eliminated once the two offices become one.

“The bottom line is I expect somebody will be gone,” Dixon said. “That’s not because of poor performance, it’s just another area where we’re looking at how to save the taxpayers money and provide the same amount of services.”

The consolidation is able to happen due to a change in the Ohio budget bill, which allows for sheriffs to become dog wardens of a county.

Lisa Holbrook, 44, of Fairfield said since she learned of the county’s plan to eliminate the dog warden’s office, she’s been calling county leaders to protest the decision. Holbrook, who fosters stray animals, fears the sheriff will use the money once intended to rescue stray dogs for other operational costs within his office.

“One of my main questions is: Why? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” Holbrook said of the county’s decision to eliminate the dog warden’s office. “The wardens have a good reputation in Butler County.”

Jones said he’s working to review the dog wardens’ applications and workload to consider how he will structure the dog control sector of his office.

The county’s current dog warden didn’t respond to a request for comment. A post on the Butler County Dog Warden & Humane Officer’s website, however, called the change a “maddening setback for humane animal rescue.”

Staff Writer Lauren Pack contributed to this report.

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