Our new member Lynn Gensamer, who has recently joined us from The Rotary Club of Savannah, (aka the Downtown Club) and who is newly retired as the Executive Director of the Humane Society for Greater Savannah, talked to us on Wednesday.
Lynn has an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and began her business career with Ralston Purina in its consumer products division. A move to Connecticut led to experience in not-for-profit United Way and at the YWCA of Greenwich, CT. Lynn moved to Savannah to assume leadership of the Humane Society, and her tenure has led to dramatic improvements in animal welfare. The Humane Society under her leadership gained ASPCA recognition for its best practices and community support. Lynn retired from the Humane Society in January of this year and her last duty was to cut the ribbon celebrating the opening of Fix Savannah, the community low-cost spay and neuter clinic.

Lynn’s talk to us was about the Chatham County Animal Control (CCAC), which is a division of the Savannah Chatham Police Department; the latter is responsible for the enforcement of community Animal Ordinances. Historically, higher police department priorities, police force staffing shortages, and inadequate funding have contributed to years of poor service. In addition, public understanding of CCAC and its function in the community have been limited and often incorrect.

On July 1st of this year, Chatham County assumed responsibility for operating CCAC. Among the first steps taken by County Manager Lee Smith was to change its name to Chatham County Animal Services and to hire an experienced supervisor. Both actions are directed at changing the focus from “enforcement” to “service” with programs, communications, educational tools, etc. County Manager Smith has also stated that he plans to oversee a revision to local Animal Ordinances to provide consistency among various jurisdictions and clarity to the citizenry. Among the topics that need inclusion are requirements for the care of feral/community cats and spay/neuter services to reduce our serious overpopulation problem.

Lynn concluded her talk by expressing her support for these recent changes and sharing her optimism for improved care for pets and pet owners in our community.