GREENSBORO, NC -- A new director has been hired as the leader of Guilford County Services, bringing new hope to animals and animal lovers in the area.
Jorge Ortega will take over the shelter in January but not before a lot of change at the helm.
For the past two years, it's been a revolving door of leadership turnover at Guilford County Animal Services.
In 2015, Marsha Williams was fired after 15 years on the job after a state investigation revealed dozens of examples of animal cruelty and neglect.
Deputy County Manager Clarence Grier took over on an interim basis before the county hired Logan Rustan.
He only lasted 6 months.
The county then hired Drew Brinkley, who stayed in the position for 11 months before quitting after the shelter was fined $2,500 by the NC Dept. of Agriculture for reportedly leaving dogs outside in the hot sun.
Deputy County Manager Grier took over again as interim director but handed the job over to County Manager Marty Lawing because the position was taking up too much of his time.
Now, county leaders are confident that their new hire, Jorge Ortega, is here for the long haul.
He has a Bachelor's degree from the Universidad de Puerto Rico specializing in Veterinary/Animal Health Technology.
He also brings more than 20 years of experience working in the animal welfare field in big markets like Charlotte, Houston, and New York.
But Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad says the thing that impressed them most was his personality.
"We felt like Mr. Ortega really stepped out of the pack with his personality, with his ideas as far as community involvement, and his passion for what he does," said Conrad. "He came extremely highly recommended. Just a very charismatic individual. We are really pleased with who we've got."
Conrad says he personally contacted Ortega and asked him to apply after receiving a good recommendation about him from the Humane Society of North Carolina.
Conrad says they had over 50 applicants and they interviewed 5-6 serious candidates but Ortega was clearly the most qualified.
Conrad says he hopes the board of commissioners and the community will get behind the new director and provide him with the resources he needs to be successful.
"He's like a head coach. But of course a coach needs a support staff and other position coaches. You've got the fans and the people that help the team travel. You got all the different parts to come together to make a team successful," said Conrad. "We feel like we have a great head coach and we as a community need to give him the resources to build a successful team."
Just one day after announcing the new hire, county leaders are already working on improving the resources for the new animal services director.
Plans are in the works to either build a brand new animal shelter off Guilford College Road or renovate and expand the existing facility on Wendover Avenue.
Commissioners are considering three different options which would cost between $9 million and $15 million depending on which option they choose.
Commissioners also plan to update the county's policies and procedures to make the shelter a more attractive place for people looking to adopt.
The board of commissioners held a public workshop on Wednesday afternoon where they heard from a consultant with ideas to improve the shelter in terms of public education, marketing, and overall customer experience.
Commissioners tabled the decision on the design plans for the new shelter.
The board plans to revisit the issue at its meeting on January 18.
As for Ortega, he starts his new position in Guilford County on January 2.
WFMY News 2 tried to reach Ortega for a comment on Wednesday but he's still working at his current job at the ASPCA in New York.
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