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.