Lawrence County Commission votes against giving animal services contract back to former director

MOULTON, Ala. – Wednesday morning, a Lawrence County Commissioner cast the tie-breaking vote to deny the county’s animal service contract to go back to Bobbie Taylor, the former shelter director convicted of animal cruelty.

Instead, it will go to Changing 42 Animal Rescue, a local shelter operated by Kim Carpenter.  The vote was 3-2 in Changing 42’s favor.

The Lawrence County Commission met Wednesday morning, voting 3-2 to award the animal services contract to Changing 42 Animal Rescue.

The commission met yesterday but Commissioner Bobby Burch was not present.  The commissioners who were voted 2-2.  An emergency meeting was called for today, and Burch cast the tie-breaker.

Jackie Posey spoke on behalf of Taylor at the meeting, saying Taylor would not be involved in her shelter’s operation until she is cleared of criminal charges. It didn’t change Burch’s mind, though. The two had a heated exchange.

“This is something that bought a black eye on us two years ago, and it’s not something I want to revisit,” Burch said.  “You know the old saying ‘fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  I feel strongly about this and I think it’s shameful. I think it’s embarrassing that this is even being considered. So I certainly will not, I have been very consistent with this from the beginning, and I will not support Ms. Taylor.”

“Can you say why?” Posey asked.

“Oh I can say why, but we’d be here a long time,” Burch replied.

Posey then asked for specifics.  “My answer is no,” Burch said.

“He may have been on site when we came in and rescued 300 animals,” said another woman, Amy Mansell.

The commission then voted against Taylor.

Lawrence County has been paying Morgan County to house animals, at $20 per animal, but that contract ends this Friday, March 31. Changing 42 will take over the contract on Saturday, April 1.

Background

Bobbie Taylor is Lawrence County’s former animal services director. A judge found her guilty of animal cruelty in 2016. (WHNT News 19 file)

In the summer of 2015, Bobbie Taylor surrendered hundreds of dogs and cats after running Lawrence County’s animal shelter. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) swooped in and put the animals up for adoption.

Taylor was charged with a number of counts of animal cruelty. In 2016, a judge found her guilty of some of the charges, but Taylor has asked for a jury trial on the rest of the charges. That trial hasn’t happened yet.

There are still problems housing stray and surrendered animals in the county, and Tuesday morning, two commissioners, Mose Jones and Bradley Cross, voted to put the animals back in Taylor’s care.

However, two other commissioners, Norman Pool and Joey Hargrove, voted for the contract to go to Changing 42 Animal Rescue.

Commissioner Bobby Burch was not present that morning, so an emergency meeting was called for Thursday, March 29 so he could cast the tie-breaker vote.

Lawrence County currently pays Morgan County $20 per animal, but that contracts ends March 31.

We spoke with Chairman Cross about why he voted in favor of Taylor at the initial meeting. He said Taylor has indicated she is buying a facility that can house animals and it should be ready in 30 days. She said she would put it in a trust so it would never be sold, and always belong to the county to be used as a shelter.

“It would be a win-win situation” because it would be low-cost to Lawrence County, Cross said, and “she loves animals more than anyone I know,” he added. Cross also said Changing 42 Animal Rescue can’t handle the amount of dogs, and Taylor has the experience and will have the space.

Hargrove, meanwhile, told WHNT News 19 he can't possibly vote to give the duty back to Bobbie Taylor. He also said Lawrence County needs a solution now, and can't wait 30 days.

Though he was absent from the meeting Tuesday morning, we spoke with Commissioner Bobby Burch who said, "I didn't support [Taylor's] original contract and I did support her termination, and my mind has not changed. Anyone supporting her is showing poor judgment because it was a black eye on the county, one that doesn't need to be repeated."

The ASPCA also released this statement prior to Thursday's vote:

"The ASPCA is deeply concerned to learn that the Lawrence County Commission is considering a vote at 9am tomorrow morning to put animals back under the care of former Lawrence County Shelter director Bobbie Taylor, who is facing numerous animal cruelty charges. Taylor was arrested and charged last June following the seizure of more than 300 animals at the Lawrence County Animal Shelter she operated out of her home. The ASPCA and Moulton Police Department witnessed the suffering first hand, discovering many emaciated, severely injured and sick animals on her property, as well as deceased animals. It is a violation of the community’s trust to consider subjecting animals to the care of an individual currently facing 15 animal cruelty charges stemming from alleged animal abuse.

We urge the residents of Lawrence County to contact the County commissioners immediately and demand that they protect the county’s animals and vote against reinstating Bobbie Taylor."