Amidst public battle, prayer vigil held for homeless pets of the Decatur Animal Services

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Pet owners, animal lovers and shelter volunteers all gathered at Wilson Morgan Park in Decatur, Thursday night.

They were there to hold a prayer vigil for the animals housed in Decatur Animal Services.

The animals are caught in the crossfire of a public battle between Decatur Animal Services Director Carol Wicks and Mayor Don Kyle.

Kyle place Wicks on paid administrative leave last Wednesday and tensions have been running high in Decatur ever since.

Animal lovers gathered to help bring some peace to the pets through prayer.

"You come because you love them," said St. John's Episcopal Church rector Evan Garner. "Someone asked if I could be here to pray for the animals and for those who work with the animals and my answer's always 'yes, of course.'"

Ginger Speidel has worked as a volunteer at the shelter for sixteen years and also attended the vigil.

"We get stregnth from it and we feel like we're doing God's work. And I believe in prayer and I believe that He will help us to prevail."

Speidel says that since Wicks was placed on paid leave, the future of both the animals and the shelter is uncertain.

"I really don't know what the next step is, except we want her back."

While the reasons behind her leave are unclear, the on-going rift between Wicks and Kyle is not.

Last October, Kyle told Wicks to reduce her shelter population by more than 250 animals in a 30 day time frame.

The two have also battled over finances and shelter management, but Thursday the focus turned from their fight to Decatur's four-legged friends.

"It's all out of love. [The shelter] is a great asset to the community," said Speidel.

Kyle is expected to report his reasons for the Wicks's removal at the next city council meeting, which is scheduled for September 2, 2014.

There must be a majority vote from the council members for Wicks to be permanently let go.


  • Animal Lover

    The Mayor of Decatur is a joke!! He comes across to me as someone who is trying to throw his “mancho” around. He wouldn’t last a day in that building running it. Carol Wicks does a damn good job running that place and she cares for the animals. That says a lot about a person & their character. She isn’t afraid to stand up to him and he doesn’t like it!! I read the emails from last year. She called him out on everything!! WAY TO GO CAROL!!! The mayor needs to go!!!

  • Dona

    The Mayor of Decatur is a joke and in my opinion he seems to have a hole in his soul. In my opinion Carol has done a wonderful job. She has a passion for these animals and it shows. Based on what I have learned from the articles I have read in these past months Mayor Kyle seems to have no regard for animals. And if I am reading the articles correctly, he also seems to be a liar. He should step down from office. I really do not understand how he got back into office.

  • Laura

    Does anyone have keys to the shelter? This is a long holiday weekend and the animals need to be fed and watered! Did the idiot mayor think about this when he had the locks changed on the doors? I doubt it! Can anyone find this out!!!

  • Dog Mom

    Laura, Shelter staff is there to feed clean up after the animals 7 days a week, the staff was given new keys to the shelter, so the animals will definitely be taken care of over the weekend. The impact of changing the locks is only on after hours volunteer activities, like taking the dogs to 3rd Fridays Downtown, or adoption events that occur after shelter hours. That said, the staff has been very accommodating this week, coming to the shelter to let volunteers in after an event Monday night. It seems this mayor is bitter because he didn’t get his way back in 2006 when he opposed building the new shelter. Since then, his goal has been to turn it back into strictly “animal control” facility to prove that he was “right”. He’s also still angry that his mandate to drastically reduce animals last October was made public, and it appears that this was his way of retaliating. The staff at the shelter is already extremely short-handed and to put this kind of strain and stress on the remaining staff is cruel and spiteful, but it’s really no surprise. He is an elitist who is only concerned about his own agenda. If you look at the cuts that he has made in other areas, they have one thing in common – they affect those city employees who arguably work the hardest and make the least amount of money (bailiffs, parks and rec, animal services). It seems he’s waging an all out war against the middle class in Decatur.

  • Jessica Huff

    The Mayor needs to go. There is a place in hell waiting on him. This man is pure EVIL and heartless. He’s running this city into the ground and it’s time we get him out of office. I’ve lived here almost 2 years and volunteered at the SHELTER for awhile. Carol is amazing and really cares about the animals. The SHELTER is ran but amazing staff and volunteers. The public paid to have this SHELTER built to protect the animals and to find homes for them, Not to kill as many as possible like the mayor wants.

  • mswad

    I also have heard about what a jerk Decatur’s Mayor is. His lack of compassion is not only for animals but employees as well. I am voting him out.

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