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. That county oversight failure of a private so-called animal shelter but neglectful and abusive organization 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.
Great move on rescue pets
Speaking of rescue animals -- we highly recommend adopting one -- another kudo is in order. Last week, the Manatee County commission abandoned an initiative to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs bred in puppy mills. The proposed ordinance looked to be entirely aimed at Petland Bradenton.
But Petland stood tall and agreed to place up to 15 county shelter dogs at its store, at 3530 53rd Ave. W. All the sales money, at the low amount the county charges, will go back to Animal Services.
Big props to Petland Bradenton.
In an email to the county in which Petland pitched this proposal, the company stated a mission common to rescue organizations: "Anything that results in the rehoming of our animals from the facilty (county shelter) to forever homes is a great thing and a great day."
Petland will pay for veterinary care, food and a place to stay until adopted. Pardon us for writing this, but that's pretty doggone cool for Petland.
Companies that serve the public interest deserve recognition -- and patronage.
Quote of the week
"Gone are the days that we just find the cheapest way to build a box to house students. Our schools must accommodate the type of learning that our students are engaging in now and are expected to be proficient at in the future."
-- Manatee County School District Superintendent Diana Greene, commenting at a Thursday meeting where the school district held its first public discussion focusing on expectations for providing education in the future.