New animal shelter director takes over

Wild about community: ‘We don’t want to let them down’

By Kevin Spradlin 
and MacKenzie Spradlin

Previous coverage:
* Oct. 30: County seeks new animal shelter director
* Oct. 17: Big Rock workers donate to shelter
* Sept. 16: Shelter reopens to public
* Sept. 9: Parvo outbreak closes animal shelter to public

ROCKINGHAM — The Aug. 31 census at the Richmond County Animal Shelter was 135 dogs and 114 cats.

On Tuesday — Bonnie Wild’s first day on the job as the new director — there were a total of 81 animals, including 51 dogs and 30 cats.  The day began with no puppies and no kittens. A total of 62 animals have been sent to rescue or adopted in the last eight days alone.

Kevin Spradlin | Bonnie Wild began her new job as Richmond County Animal Shelter director on Tuesday. She's pictured here with Tiny, one of 30 dogs available for adoption at the facility located west of Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin |
Bonnie Wild began her new job as Richmond County Animal Shelter director on Tuesday. She’s pictured here with Tiny, one of 30 dogs available for adoption at the facility located west of Rockingham.

Lori Tadlock, director of human resources for Richmond County, credited the work of the remaining shelter staff — which has multiple vacancies — as well as that of Hanna Marks, of the Humane Society of Richmond County, and Allison Sweatt of Richmond County Animal Advocates.

“They have been doing an outstanding job,” Tadlock said of county-owned and operated shelter.

Enter Wild, who said she brings more than 10 years of experience with animal care and advocacy with Lee County-area shelters, boarding facilities, rescue groups, canine training, kenneling and veterinarians. Wild takes over for Rebecca Davis, who was fired last month after 17 months on the job. Wild is one of six candidates interviewed for the position, Tadlock said.

Wild, 53, said she’s lived in North Carolina for 30 years and that she relocated to Richmond County earlier this year for personal reasons but remained employed in the Sanford area. She declined to identify any of her former employers. One Internet business site lists a Bonnie Wilde as being a cash officer manager at a Sanford Walmart.

The position at the Richmond County Animal Shelter, meanwhile, is right up her alley, Wild said.

While the census is down at the animal shelter, so is the employee count. The shelter is funded for four full-time kennel technicians, one part-time technician and a part-time secretary. Both part-time positions are vacant, as is one full-time tech position.

“That will be a challenge,” said Wild, who said she brings nearly 20 years of human resources and personnel management experience to the table, “but it’s also a priority.”

Wild said working with the public and outside agencies, such as Richmond County Animal Advocates and other rescue groups, is critical to her success.

“You want to work with the community as much as you can,” she said. “We don’t wanna let them down.”

She said her previous work at privately managed no-kill shelters doesn’t necessarily reflect her personal philosophy. Wild said every effort will be made to place animals in fosters, rescues or permanent homes but realizes it’s also a numbers game.

In a recent article on, County Manager Rick Sago provided a summary of the monthly reports submitted from January through September this year. The numbers reflect that 2,335 cats and dogs were taken in by the shelter — through owner surrenders or those brought in by the city, the county or other, including 1,563 dogs and 772 cats.

And in those nine months, 52.9 percent of them were euthanized. Sago said that is normally due to injury, illness or overpopulation. Sago said data before January 2014 was not available because the county, which took over the shelter in July 2013, didn’t begin receiving monthly reports until then.

“I understand if you’ve got sick and injured pets,” Wild said of the use of euthanasia. “If we can foster them or send them to rescue … that would be wonderful. But if (we get) overly populated to where we cannot foster them out or have them adopted or send them to other shelters … I would hate to euthanize them, but I would understand that. We want to try and do everything we can.”

After several months of making the daily commute to Sanford, Wild said this position is perfect for her.

“I wanted to work with animals,” she said. “I enjoy that. I had no reservations. I had done a lot of research about this county and what goes on.”

Wild said she has two adult children and a grandchild. She shares her Rockingham home with her 7-year-old lab-terrier-pit mix named Rambo.

The public can meet Wild and adoptable pets by visiting the shelter from noon to 6 p.m. each Tuesday through Friday or noon to 5 p.m. each Saturday.

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  • Alice Kaulfers

    I hate to sound negative but this doesn’t seem like “good” news. It would be nice to know what Wild’s “philosophy” is in reference to her employment with no kill shelters…and what does… it’s a numbers game… exactly mean??? She would hate to euthanize but… what??? It would appear Sago has chosen well… I recall reading a comment that was made by the powers that be… Let God sort them out…I fear for the fur babies and hope people will think twice before surrendering their beloved pets or rescues and try other avenues to give them away…craigslist, facebook, one mans junk, all counties have them, list free to a good home…perhaps they will have a chance and not a death sentence.

  • namegame

    You need to do some research on “giving” away animals on sites such as Craigslist. There are predators on there that get these animals for abuse, fighting, etc. You can’t just give animals away without going through a process. There have been a number of reported cases of people getting animals on Craigslist and them torturing and killing them.

    Good luck to our new animal director.

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