New director for animal center

Butch Lawson is Corinne T. Smith Animal Center board’s choice

Steve Nash
Butch Lawson replaces a doorknob on a door inside the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center Tuesday, a day after being named the center’s director. [Photo by Steve Nash]

Butch Lawson, a 31-year law enforcement veteran who has worked at the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center for just over two years, has been named director of the center.

Animal center board members named Lawson as the new director after meeting Monday night.

Lawson had been a kennel tech before being named kennel manager earlier this month. As director of the center, Lawson replaces Carren Bowden, who was terminated as director last month.

“I think it’s exciting,” Lawson said Tuesday of his new job. “I look forward to a lot of good stuff.”

Lawson said he didn’t have any changes to announce. “We’re still in the cleaning mode, cleaning a bunch of stuff up, getting it out so can prepare some room hopefully for some more dog kennels.”

Lawson said he’s been animal lover “since I was a kid.” He said he’d cared for “dogs, cats, horses, goats, you name it.”

Lawson, a five-year Army veteran, worked for law enforcement agencies including the Early and Bangs police departments.

Board member Steve Finch said Lawson is “well respected in the community, knows animals and knows how the shelter runs. It just made sense to go internal rather than external and go through the whole training process.”

At Monday night’s board meeting, board president Debra Dixon gave an update on several topics fundraising. The center will not be putting on Canines Cats and Cabaret this spring, an event that has been one of the center’s major fundraisers, Dixon said.

A musical fundraising event is being talked about, and ideas for a venue are welcome from the board and public, Dixon said. She said it would be similar to the former Brownwood Reunion, “where they have bands and a stage, and people buy tickets and come in and we’ll have food trucks.”

Dixon also addressed a question of whether the shelter is accepting animals beyond what animal control officers bring in.

“If someone comes in and there’s a stray that’s been dumped off or that’s come to their home, we take them,” Dixon said. “Now if they come in and they’ve got a dog and they don’t want it any more, we do not. We take their name and their number and as soon as we have an open kennel, we call them and we let them bring the animal in.

“We are not heartless. We do our best to help anybody that needs help.”

Finch, the board member, has built extra pens, Dixon said. “We do not pile dogs on top of each other and we do not hide them in crates anywhere,” she said.

Addressing the topic of euthanasia, Dixon said that is for injured animals.

“We are not putting down animals for space,” Dixon said. “We have plenty of people that can contact rescues. We’ve got people that adopt. We’ve got 14 animals going to rescues (Tuesday). We’ve got more going out at the end of the week if I can get the list finished. We are working on it. We are doing everything possible.

“I’m not unrealistic enough to think we can be 100 percent no kill. But we can be low kill. We’re doing the best we can. A lot of the animals that were in the building, we’ve returned them to their owners. We’ve bent over backwards to work with the city the best that we can.”

Cleanup continues, Dixon said, but upcoming needs include redoing the drainage system, which will take the services of a licensed plumber.