New Aiken County Animal Shelter Director Martha Chadwick may not have experience working in animal shelters, but Assistant County Administrator Andy Merriman said she’s the right person for the job.
Chadwick will not take the place of any director; the position was created after County officials decided to give Shelter Chief Enforcement Officer Bobby Arthurs a bit of a break so he could focus on the issues he’s great at, according to Merriman.
“Bobby kind of fell into the position he was in by default, and he needs to be out in the road,” Merriman said. “He is fabulous at dealing with the public and solving problems. The man has a big, old heart. He’s a rock star when you get him out, and so it’s not fair to him. It was almost setting him up for failure for him to be pulling both weights and then go back on the road. We wanted to let him do the things he’s really good at and go out and do it.”
Chadwick’s lack of shelter experience didn’t hurt, according to both County Administrator Clay Killian and Merriman. Her solid resume in management and volunteer experience made her even more of a catch.
“Plus, she got a couple of shelter pets before she moved in, so she’s got a big heart for animals,” Merriman said. “And you’ve got to have a heart for animals if you want a job and (to) work around the stuff these folks run on a day-to-day basis.”
Chadwick will oversee the facilities on Wire Road, making sure they are well maintained, fiscally run, well staffed and clean. Her other roles will be a liaison-type between the volunteers, the public and County Council.
Killian said part of Chadwick’s role and the new Shelter’s transition from its previous environment to its current, is to put a bigger emphasis on the shelter side, and leave behind the dog-catcher stereotype.
Merriman seconded the sentiment.
“The old shelter was seen as unwanted, unclean, and so this whole mindset shift, like removing the law enforcement side out, is to be more of an advocate or at least as much as an advocate a government can be,” Merriman said. “Now, that is FOTAS’ (Friends of the Animal Shelter) job to advocate, but our role can be the best care possible.”
Chadwick will start her role as county shelter director in the next two weeks.
Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard.