After dog controversy, Carson City Animal Services’ manager is out
August 23, 2013
City government has made management changes at Carson City Animal Services following controversy over putting down an unlicensed dog.
Gail Radtke, the manager until Wednesday, is gone and an environmental health inspector is in charge temporarily, according to City Manager Larry Werner and Deputy City Manager Marena Works. The changes came after an evaluation and were based also on "a need to refocus the direction and goals" of Animal Services, they said.
A letter to the editor by the dog's owner published Aug. 4 in the Nevada Appeal touched off controversy, and she since has retained lawyer Cal Dunlap. Dunlap said Aug. 14 that he was collecting information for a possible lawsuit and expected to finish that process in a couple of weeks.
Works said pet adoptions have decreased, volunteers have left and the shelter "is just filling up like mad" with animals since the dog, Rollie, was euthanized.
"It's getting more crowded every day," she said, voicing hope that people will step up to volunteer, as well as adopt dogs or cats and help alleviate troublesome conditions.
She said staff members, most of them uninvolved when the dog was put down after his owner didn't come up with the money to recover him, are "devastated" over the controversy.
Works said in an update about Animal Services and the shelter, at 3770 Butti Way, that Radtke "is no longer employed with Carson City." Works declined to go into details about the reasons.
"Bob Elliott, currently our environmental health inspector, is temporarily overseeing operations on site," Works said. She and Werner are working with a company "to place an experienced manager into the position while we conduct a national search."
The goal is a candidate who has managed employees at the city or county level, has political savvy, is well-versed at working with community groups, can deal with controversy and can handle media relations, according to the two city executives.
"We expect to have an interim in place within the next two weeks," Works said.
Works, formerly the director of the city's Health and Human Services Department that oversees Animal Services, contends the shelter has been improved in recent years but says more needs to be done.
"Obviously, there are some things we have to do faster rather than slower," she said.
She said Elva Gilliland from the health department will shadow front-counter personnel at the shelter to oversee customer service and provide guidance.
"She just has a knack for customer service," Works added.
She and Werner also said Nicki Aaker, who took over this month as director at the health department as Works' permanent replacement, is nearly finished with rewrites of pertinent policy dealing with impounding animals, handling of strays and euthanasia.
"Additionally," Werner and Works said of Aaker, "she has developed a code of conduct for Animal Services officers that will be posted in the office and online."
The deputy city manager noted staffers at Animal Services include the manager, three officers, two full-time and two part-time kennel staffers, a front-end person and a volunteer coordinator. The unit's manager oversees both the shelter's on-site and field operations Works said.