Shelby County rabies officer resigns

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Shelby County rabies officer Becky Senicz resigned from her position Sept. 9, after the Alabama Department of Environmental Health opted to end a year-old vaccination verification program in the county.

According to Shelby County environmental director Jim Hollins Jr., the program had come under fire from local residents for alleged invasions of privacy.

After meeting with Senicz and Dr. James Green, director of the rabies verification program, Hollins said an agreement could not be reached on how to solve the problems with the program.

Senicz expressed concern for the lack of support for the county rabies control program in her resignation letter.

&8220;I have had very little indication of interest in protecting the citizens of this county against rabies,&8221; she said. &8220;At least on the part of the local district attorney&8217;s office, the sheriff&8217;s office, a majority of governing officials and the Shelby County Health Department itself.&8221;

Hollins cited a need for more supervision of door-to-door rabies inspectors that were contracted through Green.

Senicz said that she could not continue to work without the support of local officials.

&8220;I find myself unable to justify serving in the position or to call myself doing my job properly when prohibited from taking the necessary steps to do so,&8221; she said. &8220;There are unfortunately, a number of our citizens who will not have their animals vaccinated unless they are forced to do so.&8221;

Senicz&8217;s position as the count rabies officers was voluntary, without any funding for vaccination enforcement or awareness programs. The door-to-door inspection program was started in 2004 after five bats and raccoons were discovered to be infected with rabies in Shelby County.

Green expressed his concern with the discontinuation of the program, arguing that other Alabama counties were able to manage similar programs effectively.

&8220;&8221;If we can prosecute in other counties using the same personnel and protocols, then why can&8217;t we get it done in Shelby County?&8221; he asked.

Green called the health department&8217;s decision to stop the verification program and Hollins&8217; concerns with privacy &8220;fabrication and total corruption.&8221;

Hollins confirmed that the final door-to-door verifications took place last Friday. A replacement for Senicz had not been decided on at press time