Just when you think Barrow County Animal Control is going to get its act together, something else bizarre happens.

After a failed attempt to hire an outsider to the department as director, the Barrow County Board of Commissioners decided to go in house and promote a long-time officer who supposedly brought a clean record to the table.

Most know how that worked out in the end. After taking away Danyal Harper’s promotion to director, the nine-year veteran of Barrow County Animal Control decided to vacate his employment with the department all together. His situation has been featured in this newspaper and other media outlets and his name has been splashed across social media sites for his apparent hobby of collecting various cartoons and pictures making a joke of animal welfare.

Was it the worst thing that has ever come to light concerning a Barrow County Animal Control employee? Probably not. But the situation showed such a lack of judgment that he proved unworthy to have the position as well as the salary that went with it.

So where does Barrow County Animal Control go from here? First, something should be stressed, and that is not all employees of the department through the years have been bad. The bad always has a brighter light than the good in situations of this nature.

However, county officials have been neglect in their duty of picking leaders for the facility. Three directors have come and gone in recent months and not many in the animal welfare community have much faith the next choice will be any better.

It should also be pointed out that Animal Control is about so much more than being a dog catching operation. That’s how some people view it, but in reality, the department — funded through taxpayer funds — is about animal welfare and doing all it can to help animals find new homes.

Fortunately, some local rescue groups have worked closely with Barrow County Animal Control recently to help improve the group’s tarnished image and to help find permanent homes for dogs and cats who have had a rough plight in life.

Finally, officials who make the decision to hire a leader for this department have to do a better job of checking the backgrounds of applicants. This newspaper’s lead reporter brought to light the scandals involving past directors and did so with little effort. It didn’t take a gravedigger to unearth the facts although our reporter is known for digging deep for any story she works on.

Animal Control can be a vital asset to a community and its animal population, who through no fault of their own are too often neglected and left without homes. However, when one embarrassing story after another comes to light, then one has to wonder just how much worse things can get.

For heaven’s sake, please get the hire right this time. It has been said that those making these hires perhaps need their job status questioned. That’s certainly true, I believe.

Chris Bridges is editor of the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at cbridges@barrowjournal.com.

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