Conroe, June 13 – Alligators, crocodiles, and other creatures livened up the June 12, 2018, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting. Montgomery County Animal Shelter and Animal Control Director Aaron Johnson presented a new Wild Animal Ordinance to the Commissioners Court.
The purpose of the Ordinance, one of the few types of ordinances that county governments may enact under Texas law, is to permit controller park environmental to maintain alligator and crocodile exhibits on private park property under certain conditions. The amendment to the Animal Control Ordinance came at the request of Grand Texas, the water theme park opening in East Montgomery County near the intersection of State Highway 242 and U.S. Highway 59 around April, 2020.
The exhibit will include displays of live alligators and crocodiles and may include a zip line feature similar to the back lot tours over crocodile habitats at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.
County Judge Craig Doyal raised an interesting question about an wild animal ordinance pertaining to alligators. “Why do we need such an ordinance for alligators, because there’s a whole bunch of the next door to one of my houses?” Alligators are fairly ubiquitous in Montgomery County, particularly near the San Jacinto River and portions of Lake Conroe. (The alligator photograph at the top of this article is from a Florida golf course, as no alligators in this area are close to that size, as renowned local alligator hunter-expert Leesa Hyder has confirmed.) Johnson explained that the purpose of the ordinance was to address conditions under which private parks may display and keep alligators and crocodiles in captivity, unlike the wild conditions near Doyal’s home.
The Animal Shelter’s Johnson also presented another proposal to the Commissioners Court during the June 12 meeting which provoked some additional discussion. The Agenda item was to raise the base salary for two veterinarian vacancies to $110,000 per year from the current $103,000 salary level.
Bill O’Sullivan, the local Sage and Board Chairman of The Homeless Animal Kindness Society, a charitable organization focused on animal welfare and the live-release of animals from the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, commented that it was essential that the Animal Shelter keep the very popular Dr. Jordan Gentry, the current veterinarian on staff, at the highest salary. Johnson confirmed that Dr. Gentry earns $120,000 per year in salary.
Johnson explained that the Shelter has had the two vacancies for veterinarians for several months, which has been an enormous challenge for Dr. Gentry. The Shelter Director confirmed that, at the $110,000 per year salary level, he felt the Shelter will be able to attract two full-time veterinarians to assist in the case load.
The Animal Shelter currently has approximately 750 animals, an enormous population for the facility geared more towards a maximum 450 animals. The spring season, where high intakes always occur, coupled with residual effects of Tropical Storm Harvey are the two primary causes of the massive increase in the Montgomery County Animal Shelter’s population.