Conroe, November 28 – Precinct 4 County Commissioner candidate Bob Bagley, who currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Hospital District, criticized Montgomery County Animal Shelter Director Aaron Johnson’s proposed expenditure of $169,931.00 for the purchase of a “trailer designed for the use of emergency animal rescue and mobile adoption unit,” which the County Purchasing Department has placed on the Commissioners Court agenda today. The funds will come from two Petco Foundations grants, totaling $250,000. The Animal Shelter already used $47,000 of the grant money to purchase a pickup truck suitable for pulling the custom-made trailer.
“I’m all in support of the Animal Shelter,” said Bagley, who previously served on the Animal Shelter Advisory Board and has been involved in animal shelter issues for many years. “But I question every part of this expenditure. I’m shocked by it…Basically, we’re spending $170,000 for a trailer with cages that we might use once a year in a disaster…We can purchase much cheaper vehicles and put cages in them to transport animals safely.”
Bagley also expressed concern that the driver and operator of the vehicle and trailer will not receive specialized training from the County, according to Johnson who spoke with The Golden Hammer yesterday afternoon. “No training doesn’t make sense, because every person who operates one of our County vehicles has to go through training. If someone has no training with use of a gooseneck trailer, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. They’re putting county out there for liability and causing a safety risk,” the Precinct 4 Commissioner candidate said.
Bagley criticized the amount of the expenditure even if it comes from grant money. “It’s great to have things given to you in grants, but let’s be realistic. $170,000 for the transport of dogs and cats doesn’t make sense.”
Johnson explained that the Petco Foundation grants named a purpose for the grants, in part, was for the purchase of this type of trailer. “We worked with the Purchasing Department and the vendor-company is part of the General Services Administration buyboard,” Johnson explained, referring to the reason the trailer purchase was not put out for competitive bids.
“The gooseneck trailer, which the vendor is custom-building for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, will have multiple purposes. It has cages and other trailer amenities. We can use it for mobile adoptions. We may be able to use the trailer for spay/neuter events in communities in Montgomery County as well,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that the Animal Shelter’s experience during the Harvey storm was a major factor in the decision of the Petco Foundation to fund the trailer purchase and of Johnson and his management staff to support the decision. “During the storm, we had animals coming in constantly to the Lone Star Convention Center. We had buses coming in with 10 to 20 animals per bus, then going back and forth with animal control officer trucks without sufficient cages for the emergency. If we’d had this trailer, we could have saved trips and not risk animal and human lives in the rescue efforts.”
In response to Bagley’s maintenance cost concerns, Johnson explained that the Shelter staff would need to provide routine maintenance for the trailer, while the truck would fall under the County’s vehicle maintenance program. Johnson said, “It’s a custom-built trailer just for us. It’ll come with a warranty for any non-routine repair issues.”