County ag commissioner won’t divulge reasons for Amy Cooper’s exit from the troubled agency
By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County’s animal care and control director is out of a job less than a year after she was hired, another setback for an agency that has struggled in recent years to maintain consistent leadership.
The circumstances surrounding Amy Cooper’s departure were unclear Tuesday.
Cathy Neville, the county’s agricultural commissioner who supervises the animal care division, refused to comment Tuesday other than to say that Cooper was no longer working for the county.
“That’s all I can say,” Neville said.
Cooper could not immediately be reached Tuesday. Her departure comes almost a year to the day after she was hired by the county.
News of her departure was greeted with shock within the county’s tight-knit animal welfare community.
Kiska Icard, executive director of the Sonoma Humane Society, praised Cooper for working to reduce the number of homeless animals that are killed in the county and for working to implement low-cost spay and neuter programs.
“We are concerned whether this collaborative effort will continue without Amy’s leadership,” Icard said in a statement.
Marcia Chadbourne, the county’s risk manager, said she was notified on Monday that Cooper is no longer with the shelter.
Chadbourne said she could not comment further because it is a personnel matter.
Cooper is the latest animal care and control director to depart after a relatively short period of time on the job.
The shelter has had two managers, and the agricultural commissioners’ office that supervises it has had two directors, since 2006, when a management audit of the animal care division found a slew of problems with shelter operations.
Neville acknowledged a lack of leadership last summer following the release of a grand jury report that criticized the agency for not using a mobile vet vehicle, for not working with the county’s animal welfare activists and for not making bilingual information available.
The shelter also faced criticism for the number of animals killed there.
But Cooper’s brief tenure, at least initially, was marked by a sharp decline in the number of euthanizations.
In the last quarter of 2009, the rate of animal deaths at the shelter fell to 28 percent from a 43 percent average in fiscal 2008-09.
More current data was unavailable Tuesday.
Neville said Bob Garcia, the supervising animal care and control officer, will oversee shelter operations until Cooper’s replacement is found.
Neville said the agency recently hired an operations manager to oversee the department’s budget and administrative functions.
She said she wants the next animal care director to concentrate on outreach with the community and developing “good” spay and neuter programs.
“We’re moving forward,” Neville said.
Chadbourne said the salary range for Cooper’s job is between $88,035 and $107,007.
She said the county will begin looking for a replacement immediately. “It’s an important position.”