Lapeer County agency’s new director shows passion for job
LAPEER COUNTY — The recent retirement of Lapeer County Animal Control Chief Dave Eady has afforded Rachel Horton the chance to pursue her dream of providing proper care and good homes for the county’s animal population.
Horton, who started at Animal Control in 2019, was off work and on maternity leave when she interviewed for the chief’s position on Thursday, March 31, and offered the job the very next day.
“I was officially offered the position on April 1,” said Horton. “I came back early so I could spend a few days working with Dave (Eady) to make for a smooth transition.”
Eady’s last day as chief was on Friday, April 22.
Since her promotion, Horton, an Imlay City resident, has garnered widespread support from family, friends, peers at Lapeer County Animal Control, and the community at large.
“Being offered this position is very meaningful to me and extremely rewarding,” Horton said. “I feel that in the three years I’ve been here, we have been continuously pushing for change and working to improve any negative stigma that was once associated with animal control.
“To see the outpouring of support from other agencies and the community shows that we have made progress,” she continued. “It is very satisfying to be associated with that.”
Horton said she is thankful to everyone who has offered their kindness and support, both past and present.
“I credit my family for being supportive of my goals,” she said. “They are always willing listen to my ideas and assist me with events and fundraisers.
“I thank them for helping me walk dogs on weekends and holidays, even though they have every right to be annoyed because I am constantly messaging dog owners from our social media accounts. They just take it in stride and let me be passionate and without guilt.
“I always knew I wanted to work with animals,” she said, “and they have provided so many opportunities for me to learn and figure out what area I wanted to specialize in.”
Horton also thanked her teachers and 4-H leaders for their support over the years. She specifically acknowledged Tammy Hyatt of Lapeer County FFA and Joe Ankley of North Huron FFA for their inspiration and mentoring.
“They have been amazing mentors to me,” she said. “I was lucky enough to be a student under Tammy, and to work alongside Joe before coming to Animal Control.”
While excited about the opportunity, Horton realizes many challenges lay ahead if she is to achieve her goals at Lapeer County Animal Control.
“One of the biggest challenges is that we are never going to be a cash cow of revenue capable of supporting the many dogs and cats that need our help,” she said. “Our staff is constantly fundraising and even started a nonprofit this year to provide more veterinary care for animals that come through our doors.”
She is nevertheless bolstered significantly by the support of her fellow staff at the Lapeer County Animal Control shelter.
“I think that the team of officers we have now is remarkable,” she said.
“Everyone on our team is passionate, hardworking, knowledgeable and truly wants to help animals and owners.
“We are all motivated to sustain positive momentum at the facility, which is evidenced by our growing social media accounts, new adoption policies, agency assists, and much more.”
Horton said there remain challenges that will eventually need to be addressed in the years ahead.
“We have a very old building (shelter) that needs repairs, and officers that deserve better equipment and tools to make their jobs easier and safer,” she said. “It can be terrifying responding to a call with only a catch
“We currently have a bursting cat population with no programs in place to help, and not enough local rescues to house these animals.”
“I would love to offer more services to the public,” Horton said, “but that requires more money, time, staff and space.
“These are big hurdles,” she added, “but I hope to be here long enough to make some significant changes.”