Sad to say Bill Hutchison is soon gone from his leadership post at Manatee County Animal Services, as of Sept. 30. He served longer than he planned in his supposed retirement, putting in 13 months though he first stated upon taking the tough job as only a six-month project. "Interim" indeed.
He will be missed.
Hutchison's steadfast leadership brought a beleaguered Animal Services into a stronger place, one the former county public safety director and information technology chief aspired to achieve when brought out of retirement by county Administrator Ed Huzeker. That masterful hire, one Hutchinson acknowledges as a good move, leaves the agency in a great position to maintain the county's goal of being a No Kill community.
The Animal Services' live release monthly average of 93 percent of abandonded pets, the improvement of medical care and the partnerships with local volunteers and rescue organizations is a testament to how far the county agency has come from the dismal aftermath of the disasterous Napier shelter crisis. (Under the global no-kill movement, shelters must save animals at a rate of 90 percent, those being healthy, treatable and rehabilitatable pets.)
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Manatee County's oversight failure of a private so-called animal shelter, Napier's, exposed a neglectful and abusive organization that untimately led to criminal convictions of the owners. Today, Animal Services shapes up as an accountable and successful agency. Critics remain, of course, but goverment will always garner that.
Hunzeker said it well in a public statement about Hutchinson's departure and his work: "Outstanding save rates would not be possible without valuable and lasting partnerships we have forged with community partners." That remark goes on to cite Hutchinson's many achievements.
Bill Hutchison served commendably and strongly in leading an agency back from the brink. He earned the community's thanks for that.