Van Buren County is currently without an animal control officer after the current officer resigned from the position recently. The answering machine at the shelter, where the officer was based, states that no animal control officer is available, and for callers to contact Van Buren County Sheriff with any issues.

The position had been held by Reta Tharp, who submitted her resignation to the Sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Scott Bradley, whose office the Animal Control Officer reports to, said his office was about to begin the search for a new officer, first by running an ad, then interviews prior to hiring a new Animal Control Officer for the county. He hoped the process would be completed in the next few weeks.

Bradley said his office had not been getting many calls about animal problems. “Most people have been patient,” he said.

Lori Treat, with SNYP (Spay and Neuter Your Pets), the organization which took over the shelter July 1, said Tharp would continue with the shelter as a kennel worker. The transition of the shelter from a county to a not-for-profit entity was a process begun late last year as operating cost concerns led to the county contemplating shutting the shelter down. Turning the shelter over to SNYP was considered the best-possible outcome, as it would provide animal control while removing operations from the county budget.

An earlier agreement had City of Clinton Contributing to county shelter budget.

The animal control officer would, per the terms of the agreement moving the shelter to not-for-profit control, remain as an officer reporting to the sheriff’s office.

The shelter recently reopened after having been closed for quarantine due to Parvo infection, a fast-spreading virus which affects dogs, often fatally. Once an infection takes place, such as a dog brought in infected with the virus, the shelter has to close for 14 days in order for the virus to run its course, Treat said. Due to this the shelter was closed for quarantine just as SNYP took it over.