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Press Release by Avery County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr. Regarding Animal Services

On behalf of the Avery County Commissioners and the Avery County Sheriff, Mike Henley, in response to the recent dialogue regarding Animal Support in Avery County, we would like to make taxpayers and citizens aware that at a public workshop on February 22, 2023, the below steps were discussed for implementation.

Mike Henley, the Avery County Sheriff, is already designated as the individual responsible for determining whether a dog is a potentially dangerous dog. Sheriff Henley is actively involved in the process of hiring an animal cruelty investigator. Salary, benefits, and equipment were discussed with Avery County Commissioners support. This will allow the sheriff’s office to have an officer dedicated to animal cruelty cases in Avery County.

The county manager along with the county attorney is now working on an agreement with Mitchell County Animal Rescue (MCAR) to house any cruelty case through the Avery County Sheriff’s Office. Long-term, the county is working toward an agreement with MCAR to provide animal services for all of Avery County’s needs. This will be a collaborative effort with both counties support along with private funding.

Mayland Community College Board of Trustees have verbally agreed to allow an Avery-Mitchell county shelter to be built on property owned by the college. The concept is to get the shelter up and running, with MCAR having the potential to house animals for the two counties at the site. Mayland Community College has also discussed adding a veterinarian technician curriculum to their current offerings.

While animal services come with a broad range of questions and concerns, the county commissioners feel these steps are in the right direction. The hope is that working with MCAR, the Sheriff’s office, the Avery Health Department on rabies and other testing, Avery Humane Society, and other animal agencies together we will do the best job possible for our animals.