Animal control officers in Thomasville will soon be allowed to carry a firearm with them while on duty.

The Thomasville City Council unanimously passed the ordinance Monday night at its meeting. Council member Pat Shelton was absent from Monday’s meeting.

The request to council to consider arming Animal Control officers came from Thomasville Police Chief Jeff Insley. Insley said the request for officers to have a firearm was to ensure their safety in a compromising situation.

“If they get into a situation and he’s got to depend on calling an (police) officer, and we’re tied up, then they can go ahead and do what they need to do,” said Insley.

Insley stressed firearms would be used as a last resort, only when an officer, another person or animal is in immediate danger. Animals can be euthanized under those circumstances or when they are severely injured.

All animal control officers will be issued a rifle and shotgun. They will be subject to firearms qualifications to hold the weapons.

“It will be an annual certification, just like (police) officers,” said Insley. “And they will be required to maintain an 80 percent (grade on the qualification test) just like (police) officers. My whole goal was just to give better services and whatever we needed to do make that happen, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Currently, animal control officers carry pepper spray but no tranquilizer-based weapons.

Insley said he would also like to add tranquilizer weapons for animal control officer’s use in the future.

Source: David Bodenheimer for The Dispatch.

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