Animal Shelter Is A Micorcosm Of Williamson County/Republican Style Government - Blame Their Incompetence On Someone Else [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary, Had Enough Yet?, Williamson County at 1:32 pm by wcnews

Reading through the accounts of how the disaster at the Williamson County Animal Shelter came about it should be shocking. But in the case of Williamson County’s government it’s just par for the course. For a while the incompetence that has infested our county’s government could be chocked up to growing pains - Williamson County going from a rural county to a more urban county, and is one of the fastest growing counties in the state and nation. Not anymore, it’s time for responsibility and accountability in our government.

The county, in an effort to save money, decided to take on sheltering animals itself and no longer contracting the services of the Williamson County Humane Society.

You may have heard about the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter (WCRAS) in the news recently. The Humane Society of Williamson County (HSWC) is not affiliated with the WCRAS.

The HSWC recently helped WCRAS with basic animal care after conditions at the WCRAS prompted that shelter to issue a plea for assistance.


Prior to the opening of WCRAS, the county contracted with HSWC for many years to provide animal sheltering services for our community. The Humane Society of Williamson County became a private, no-kill shelter in March 2007 when the WCRAS opened. Since then, HSWC volunteers and staff have focused their efforts on high volume pet adoption, low-cost spay/neuter and pet retention programs. We believe that our services compliment the public services provided by WCRAS. Pet overpopulation is a community problem that requires the local municipal shelter, the local Humane Society and a network of animal rescue groups working together with the community to address. HSWC is committed to helping the WCRAS address their current situation and will continue to work closely with the WCRAS to build a strong animal coalition in Williamson County.

They decided to build a “state-of-the-art” facility and performed a nationwide search for a shelter director. Only to underfund and under staff the facility, and then blame the new director for the problems after turning down her professional recommendations regarding what should be done at the shelter. This from the letter that Melanie Sobel, the professional hired by the county, sent to the AusChron about her resignation:

I concede that I was naïve in thinking that if the County was willing to spend $4 million on the animal shelter, it followed that there would be a sincere desire to do what it would take to make this project successful. I was continuously reminded there had been references to how dissatisfied the County was with the services being provided by the Williamson County Humane Society. This led me to believe they wanted to create a more progressive and operationally sound venture with this project. They did a national search for a shelter director and hired me because of my past experience with progressive animal welfare programs, which impressed upon me that they wanted an outstanding program. Not only was I not able to implement the types of progressive programs that were my strong suit in the past, but I was unable to fulfill the basic operations required to properly run an animal shelter and adhere to the current state laws governing shelter operations.

The whole thing smacks of a bunch of incompetents getting in over their head and, instead of admitting their mistake and fixing it, trying to blame it on someone else.

There’s much more from today’s AusChron on the animal shelter issue, . But it wouldn’t be Williamson County without some cronyism and nepotism.

Perhaps Sobel’s actual difficulty was that she didn’t understand how county government is often practiced in Williamson County. Boehm, Sobel’s replacement, is also the niece of former Commissioner Frankie Limmer; Boatright’s daughter Trista reportedly worked at the shelter for two weeks at the front desk; and the shelter just hired Jack Shannon Newsom, corrections officer and brother of Sheriff’s Office Capt. Shawn Newsom. Sobel said Boatright previously invited her to lunch – to meet a woman he suggested she hire as shelter manager. Had she done so, perhaps both she and the animals would have fared better. Repeated attempts to contact Boatright to respond to Sobel’s charge were unsuccessful.

Read this and remember that both Birkman and Covey are up for reelection in 2008.

Commissioners vociferously defended the shelter, but they also complained of recent staff resignations and found it necessary to approve a 68% increase in the operating budget, from $411,260 to $692,209, as of Tuesday’s court action. “I did see some problems at the shelter,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Lisa Birkman – citing only a broken door on an expensive clothes dryer. Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey, who also serves on the shelter board, said the shelter has plenty of donated food and pleaded with the public to stop donations, though the revised budget still has no line item for food. The court did authorize the immediate hiring of an administrative specialist and animal-care attendant, while cutting the shelter manager position.

This project was screwed up so bad that our “conservative” court members only fix is to throw money at the problem. If this wasn’t so sad it would be funny. This can be stopped these people must go.

[UPDATE]: Incompetence has it’s rewards, County officials can expect raises.


  1. audrey72 said,

    July 6, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    I am a concerned resident of Leander, Texas who has created a website to address the problems at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter. Please take a look at my site and share with others. I am not affiliated with any group. My site is free and I am not being paid.

    Thank you for supporting the animals!

    Audrey Sitomer Moses, M.S.


  2. Eye on Williamson » More On The Animal Shelter - WCRAS said,

    July 7, 2007 at 12:00 am

    […] from the comments to EOW’s earlier post on the shelter it’s recommended everyone check out this site, Shelter Concerns. Also be sure […]

  3. Eye on Williamson » News 8's Coverage Of The Disaster At The WCRAS said,

    July 10, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    […] people that told them of the problems. That’s not good, but that is what Republicans do. If you’ll remember the first shelter director that she was told not to talk to anyone about the problems either. From […]

  4. Eye on Williamson » What We’re Up Against In Williamson County said,

    November 28, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    […] member GOP commissioners court. (See current debacles the landfill contract, courthouse remodel, animal shelter, and T. Don Hutto). An ethically challenged bunch [.PDF] to be […]

  5. Eye on Williamson » Move Along, Nothing To See Here said,

    June 12, 2008 at 9:34 am

    […] this first time EOW became aware of the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter (WCRAS) it was apparent there were serious […]

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