City of Natchez taps Sanders for animal control job

Published 10:23 am Saturday, September 18, 2021

NATCHEZ —Officials have tapped Nash Sanders to be the city’s animal control officer.

Sanders, a two-year employee of the Public Works Department, was appointed animal control officer during a public forum Friday at the City Council Chambers.

Nearly 50 people attended the forum, called to allow open discussion about concerns over animal control in the city.

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Mayor Dan Gibson announced the appointment during the forum, explaining why the city had taken so long to replace the former animal control officer, who retired in June.

Officials hoped to hire a certified police officer and were conducting a search. Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry said other police officers had stepped up to fill the void and put themselves in dangerous situations.

“We had officers moving snakes out of houses with brooms and sometimes with their bare hands,” he said.

However, Gibson said when complaints of unleashed vicious dogs roaming the city and killing and injuring small pets arose, he knew there was no time left to wait for an officer to apply for the job.

“We had hoped that we were going to make a lateral transfer and were waiting on that to happen but it didn’t happen,” Gibson said. “That resulted in some real frustration because this is not a position that you just put someone in. You have to make sure you find someone of the right temperament and someone who not only loves animals but also loves people. They have to be good with both.”

Gibson said officials decided Sanders was the right person for the job in conversations with others who helped in animal control cases in the city, including representatives the Natchez Adams Humane Society and Karen Ewing, who represents the Adams County Sheriff’s Office in animal cases. They sat in the audience nodding their heads Friday as Gibson spoke of Sanders.

“(Sanders) wanted the job but he does such a good job in public works that (Natchez Public Works Director) Justin Dollar just hated to lose him,” Gibson said. “As we started to learn more and more about him, we realized this was the guy for the job. He comes highly recommended to us.”

Sanders said he grew up around animals— everything from farm animals to house pets.

“I’m very excited to take over and hopefully make a change,” Sanders said. “Eventually I would like to start a foundation where if someone has gotten down on their luck or just can’t make ends meet for a few months we could help with feeding their dog until they can get back on their feet. That is something I want to start with in helping keep animal control on the good side of the community rather than being the bad guy.”

Friday’s forum was widely attended by concerned citizens in the community who expressed their desire for reform in Natchez’s animal control.

Rebecca Alexandre said she moved to Natchez from Los Angeles and is distressed by animal issues she has seen since living here. She cited a tan-colored dog, extremely thin wearing a leather collar with a chain hanging from it, which has been hanging around her house.

“I’m feeding him but he will not let me get close,” she said. “It is very distressing to see so many starved and abused animals all over this beautiful city.”

Alexandre also spoke of a dog she said has been chained for eight years at a home behind Walgreens on Lynda Lee Drive. She said previous police chiefs of the City of Natchez knew of the situation and had done nothing about it. Alexandre said she was told the person responsible was “untouchable.”

In response, Daughtry said “Everyone is going to be treated fairly. It doesn’t matter who you are. If a person breaks a law, they are breaking a law.”

Deanna Kimbro, board president for the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society, brought up an animal control ordinance that the organization drafted and modeled after animal laws used in other cities.

The ordinance would address the tethering issue that Alexandre mentioned, Kimbro said.

It was presented to the Board of Aldermen two years ago but was never adopted.

As the animal control ordinance was discussed, Gibson pointed out that Alderwoman Valencia Hall, who chairs the city’s ordinance committee, was jotting down notes and said it would be addressed.