By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Supporters of Sonoma County’s deposed Animal Care and Control director showed up in force at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to denounce her firing and urge county officials to bring her back.
Supervisors discussed Amy Cooper’s firing in closed session but did not report taking any action on the matter.
Critics of the dismissal, which occurred 48 hours before Cooper’s yearlong probationary status was to expire, have waged a public campaign to get her back.
Some have also called for the ouster of Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Neville over her decision to fire Cooper, and for the two departments to be separated. Currently, the ag commissioner’s office oversees animal control.
John Prouty, president of the Sonoma Humane Society’s Board of Directors, told supervisors that Cooper had helped establish one of the strongest collaborations between the society and county shelter in the long history of the two agencies.
“Her efforts in reaching out to shelters and rescue groups have saved countless lives of animals and reduced euthanasia rates tremendously,” Prouty said.
Prouty urged supervisors to bring Cooper back and to make animal control its own agency, saying “the public and our animal companions may be better served by a separate, newly formed department.”
Warin Parker, a former Windsor mayor, said Cooper’s departure reflected “serious management issues” and an added burden for taxpayers because of the costs associated with finding and hiring her replacement.
He called for Neville to be fired and for Cooper to be re-instated.
Cooper, who was dismissed July 12, earned $101,916 annually and was an at-will employee, which meant she could be dismissed for any reason without explanation. She has no right to appeal the decision.
At the time, Neville said she would move quickly to find a replacement for Cooper. But as yet, that process has not formally begun.
“We’re waiting for the approval to get the recruitment open,” said Jennifer Murray, the county’s interim assistant human resources director.
Several animal control employees attended Tuesday’s meeting to show their support for Cooper.
Employees previously submitted letters to supervisors demanding Cooper’s re-instatement and have been meeting with a county official to relay their concerns about her departure.
Outside board chambers on Tuesday, Jeff Clemens, an animal control officer who has been speaking on behalf of the department’s 32 employees, said they won’t be satisfied with anything less than Cooper’s return.
He added that many have also lost confidence in Neville.
“I think it would be very difficult for our department to remain under the current management of Cathy Neville,” he said.