He cited 37 years in management at AT&T and two years in his current position as proof he can manage in the public and private sectors. He will remain as purchasing director and plans to hire animal control and shelter managers to oversee day-to-day operations of the shelter and report to him.
“I think I’ll be OK,” he said.
The new director announced his hiring to members of the county Animal Control Advisory Board last week. Current animal services director Rick Smith recently resigned his position — reportedly citing lack of resources in part for the decision. His last day is scheduled as July 30.
Peacock, whose office will remain in the courthouse, said he will split his time between the courthouse and the 30-year-old animal shelter off Cedar Mountain Road until the new managers are hired.
He said he approached County Manager Eric Linton recently about adding more responsibilities to his purchasing job and had discussed other positions as they came open. Linton then asked Peacock to consider the animal services job after Smith turned in his resignation in June.
“I thought about it and prayed about it, and said yes,” Peacock said.
Smith was hired in November as the county’s first animal services director after 33 years in the field. He had previously overseen the city animal shelter in St. Joseph, Mo.
Animal rights activists protested his policies, which they claimed led to higher euthanasia rates. However, county statistics showed the rate at only 16 percent in 2012.
Activists also attacked him via the Internet for such changes as reduction of public visitation hours. County officials said the hours were reduced to allow for needed morning exercise time and cleaning of cages before the public arrived.
Peacock said he met with some activists last week who had been critical of Smith and plans to keep an open dialog with them.
“I know things are not as … happy as they could be,” Peacock said. “I expect to listen and address their concerns within our resources.”
Advisory board chairwoman Pat Fulghum praised Peacock as a “strong management person.”
“I’m sick that [Smith] is leaving. He did such a wonderful job,” Fulghum said.
“I’m glad that, of all the county [government] people they could have chosen, they chose [Peacock],” she said. “We need a strong person out there and I think [Peacock] is one.”