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      City hires third-party group in Animal Control improvements

      In the midst of accusations concerning improper euthanasia practices and a grand jury investigation, the City of Amarillo is searching for a new director at Animal Control.

      The city is conducting a nationwide search to fill one position after Interim Director Scott McDonald headed the department in May. The city signed a contract with, Strategic Government Resources, an outside firm Assistant City Manager Bob Cowell said the city has utilized before.

      "We're in contract with them, but we asked them not to exceed the price of $26,000." Cowell said. "We'll be taking people locally, regionally and nationally into the pool as we move forward."

      Just two weeks after former Director of Amarillo's Animal Control, Mike Mcgee, stepped-down, Assistant Director Shannon Barlow followed. Now with multiple upgrades to the facility in the works and third-party groups being brought in, the city is spending a lot of money.

      "Now if a piece of it is not fitting into our budget, we're just making it happen," Cowell said. "It's tough, we will be looking at capitol needs, building needs and likely we'll have to add more to the budget than what we had anticipated spending next year."

      According to McDonald this year's current budget is $147,000, and next year's budget is $248,000. Within the next two weeks the city also plans to hire a second third-party consultant to make an assessment at Animal Control.

      "They'll be looking at how we currently operate the facility, what the facility really looks like, how we interact with our partners like the Human Society and how we can improve adoption," Cowell said.

      By the time the city is done making improvements to Amarillo's Animal Control, Cowell said the city can be anticipating a bill of a "couple hundred-thousand dollars."

      According to city officials Mike McGee and Shannon Barlow are both eligible for retirement.