UPDATE 8:20 PM: Amy Cooper returned to her old job overseeing Sonoma County’s animal shelter on Tuesday, nine months after she was fired and told to leave the facility immediately. Cooper said she still has not been told why she was fired. “I don’t suspect I’ll ever know, and I’m at peace with that,” she said.
UPDATE 7:15 PM: Sonoma County has re-hired Amy Cooper to lead the Animal Care and Control Division. Her return comes nine months after Cooper’s controversial firing sparked numerous investigations, a department re-organization and the departure of the county’s agricultural commissioner.
At least two more investigations are underway into the county’s Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and its chief, Cathy Neville, who has been on paid leave since Jan. 12. One is led by a high-powered Sacramento attorney who works under contract for the county. The other is being conducted by the Sonoma County Grand Jury.
Amy Cooper confirmed Monday that she will apply to get her old job back as the county’s Animal Care and Control director. Six months ago, her controversial firing galvanized her supporters and prompted supervisors to reorganize the agency she once ran.
Talks have broken down between the county and Amy Cooper, the former Animal Care and Control director who was dismissed two days before completing her one-year probationary period. The firing sparked a public outcry and demands that she be reinstated. But if Cooper wants her old job back, she must apply for it and compete with other candidates.
Sonoma County’s Animal Care and Control Division could be under new management by Friday if supervisors agree to the proposal at their Tuesday meeting.
County Administrator Veronica Ferguson will ask supervisors to move the Animal Care and Control Division into the Public Health Department. If approved, the move would effectively strip Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Neville of nearly half of her agency’s annual budget and employees.
The Board of Supervisors gave County Administrator Veronica Ferguson a month to make a recommendation on whether the Animal Care and Control Department should be separated from the Agricultural Commissioner’s office. But they balked at Ferguson’s request to hire a consultant to help with the analysis.
Sonoma County’s top executive is expected to ask supervisors Tuesday for approval to hire another consultant for the Animal Care and Control division. Two previous examinations did not deal directly with the ramifications of separating animal control from the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.