Lindsey aims to improve animal shelter

Published 8:00 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

Kaci Lindsey sat in her office and looked back on her first week as the city’s animal control director.

“I was overwhelmed; there was a lot of information to take in at one time, because I’m not just down there (at the shelter) doing that, I have administrative work.”

The city has not had a full-time animal control director since Eldridge Skinner retired as animal control director in 2014, and Mayor George Flaggs Jr. announced in September the Board of Mayor and Aldermen would begin the search for a new director.

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Lindsey, a Vicksburg native, said she applied for the job because “they needed someone here with experience and I have the experience and the knowledge to help modernize the facility. It was a good job opportunity for myself and my family.

“I have worked with animals for the last 10 or 11 years. In Georgia I worked for a boarding facility, Fantana Farm and Kennel, and we boarded dogs and cats there for people who went out of town, and took care of them.

“I also worked for an English bulldog breeder, Puppy Chase Kennels. I moved back here five years ago and started working at Vicksburg Animal Hospital. I worked there for five years; they trained me to be a technician.”

She and her family have four dogs and three cats, “And all but one are rescues.”

Vicksburg-Warren Humane Society director Georgia Lynn said Lindsey “is an excellent choice for that position. She’s been working as a veterinarian technician for several years. I’ve worked with her through the Humane Society and my own personal animals, and she’s very professional, she’s very knowledgeable. She’s easy to work with and she’s very compassionate.

“I’m glad the city of Vicksburg is moving forward with the city pound to make it more of a place where animals can get basic veterinary care. I think they made the right choice in hiring her, and I’m looking forward to working with her.”

Lindsey takes over a city department that has had its share of problems, and she faces a number of challenges. The shelter in the summer came under criticism by residents because of the conditions at the facility, including cleanliness, the temperature of the building and the lack of water for the animals.

“I don’t know what the problems were before I came here, but I know what I’m going to do from here forward, which is to get it cleaned up make sure they have a check list to make sure that they’re done, try to improve the quality of life, as far as knowing if they’re heartworm positive,” she said.

That means, she said, teaching shelter employees how to clean the facility well; “What to look for to make sure everything is nice and clean — things not everyone would think to look for.”

She said the employees “care about the animals; there’s no doubt in my mind. They always want what’s best for them. The dogs love those guys.”

It also means making sure the animals are dewormed when they come in, and checking them for heart worms, “So somebody would know if they’re getting a dog with heartworms, I want to get their pictures out there more to get them adopted quickly. I don’t like them to stay very long because it’s just not fair.”

Lindsey wants to train the shelter employees to be able to draw blood from the dogs and teach them how to detect diseases or infections.

“I plan on teaching those guys there how to use a microscope and what they’re looking for. I want to do that on everything that comes in, especially puppies, because hookworms are deadly for puppies and it’s very common in them.

“I want to show them what to look for in intestinal or heartworms. They’re real simple things; once they figure out what it is, it won’t be a problem to them to instantly know. They’re willing to know.”

Lindsey also wants try and get involved with more rescues for animals to take the animals people decline to adopt.

“I always want to try and start here first, but if we have a dog for a month and no one seems to be interested, I’d like to find a rescue that would pull that animal. It’s just not fair to live in a cage for your entire life.”

She wants to encourage volunteers to come help at the shelter.

“I love working with volunteers. I want volunteers to come in and help socialize the animals, they can help clean if they would like, but socializing is a great big part of this, because if a dog is terrified and hiding in a corner, no one’s going to try to adopt that one.

“We need people getting them out and socializing; some of these dogs do not know what a leash is.”

One project Lindsey will be involved in is the proposed expansion of the shelter, which is included in the city’s second draw of $9 million in capital improvement bonds.

She said she has talked with city officials about the expansion, which includes an isolation room for sick animals. “All we can do right now is put them as far away from the other animals as we can.”

Besides needing additional room, she said, the shelter needs an isolation area and a washer and dryer to wash the rags and towels the workers put in with the animals, because every time an animal comes in, it gets bathed.

She said it’s too early to set a timeline for improving the shelter, adding, “I’m starting off with all the important small things first, and them I’m moving up to the bigger tasks. There’s a lot of small things that have to be fixed first.”

“Like my boss said, ‘The direction is up and to the right.’”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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