Toni Bianchi

Porter County Animal Shelter Director Toni Bianchi hold a feline friend at the shelter. Animal control services will return to the shelter after being under the command of the sheriff's department for the last six years.

John Luke, The Times

VALPARAISO — Six years after unexpectedly taking animal control services away from the shelter and placing them with the Sheriff's Department, the Porter County Board of Commissioners has moved it all back.

The change, which was announced during last week's meeting of the commissioners, was prompted by the soon-to-be finished new animal shelter, said Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South.

"We made room for animal control in the new building and having everything under one roof makes operations more streamlined and effective," she said.

Shelter Director Toni Bianchi said the move will allow her to work more closely with the animal control officers.

This change will benefit operations by more closely aligning her experience as an animal behavioral consultant with the decision making required of the animal control officers, she said.

"I think it will be more efficient," she said.

All of the animal control officers are keeping their jobs in the move, Bianchi said. They will now report to her rather than Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds.

The animal control budget is being moved over with the officers, so there will be no additional financial demand on the shelter as it prepares to move into its new facility along Ind. 49, just northwest of the Porter County Expo building.

None of the current county commissioners were in office when the animal control duties were handed over to Reynolds' predecessor.

Commission President John Evans said at the time that the "reasons behind this are many and myriad."

He said the move was made after meeting behind closed doors with shelter employees, but Commissioner Carole Knoblock said at the time she knew nothing about the change.

The current shelter, located south of U.S. 30 on Ind. 2, had been the target of debate since the commissioners took control and implemented a no-kill policy several years earlier. The no-kill policy remains in place.

Then-Sheriff Dave Lain said the switch to his department made good sense considering the enforcement issues shared by the shelter and his department.

He said his intention was to improve responsiveness and efficiency.

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Bob is a 22-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.