DANVILLE — The Danville Humane Society hopes to hire someone in the next two months to take over for its director, who resigned this weekend, according to the agency's board president.
Director Shawn Miller resigned Saturday, according to Pete Lary, president of the nonprofit organization's board. Lary did not say why Miller resigned, but said the organization "knew this was coming" and has already interviewed someone the board believes will be the next director.
Until then, Lary said, former Director JoAnn Adams, who preceded Miller, has agreed to serve as an interim director until a replacement is hired. Adams said the new director, who is well trained, may start in the first part of March.
Lary said he did not want to disclose that individual's name until he is officially hired, and that likely won't be until the organization has a new contract with the city. But, Lary said, the person has experience working with animal shelters.
Lary also said that the humane society is working toward a new contract with the city, and he hopes it will be a multi-year agreement.
The city has, for many years, contracted with the humane society to enforce the city's animal ordinances, which includes picking up stray animals or taking in animals that are surrendered.
But the city did not renew its contract last year with the organization and has been going month to month under the terms of the old contract while discussions continue about what direction the city should go with its animal-control services.
Also last year, the humane society came under fire from local citizens when several residents complained at a Danville City Council meeting about conditions and treatment of animals at the humane society's shelter at 1225 N. Collett St., Danville.
That led to aldermen requesting that the city form a committee to study whether the city should bring animal-control services in-house and share a shelter operation with Vermilion County, which has its own animal-control officers and shelter on Catlin-Tilton Road.
Some local officials and private citizens support the city and county operating a combined animal-control department and shelter, but the committee determined that a merger would require additional money to expand the county's shelter and would also require additional annual operating expenses for the city, mostly to pay for the salaries and benefits of animal-control officers.
Last month, another small group of local citizens and officials began meeting, hoping to find a way to merge the city's and county's animal-control and shelter operations in a way that would be more feasible.
Lary said although the majority of the criticism leveled against the humane society last year was unfounded, the accusations made the organization take a deeper look at itself.
"We have re-evaluated, and we've changed some things," he said. Lary said, for example, that the University of Illinois Veterinary School has been working with the organization and raised money to buy new pet beds for all the kennels, and the school is spaying and neutering some of the animals, which will aid in the adoption process.
"It's always a good situation to examine what you are doing," he said.