Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

August 23, 2010

County, city consider joint animal shelter

Cumberland County and the city of Crossville are beginning talks about how to handle the pet overpopulation in the community.

"The Humane Society has told the city they can't take their animals any more unless they give them some more money," County Mayor Brock Hill told the Cumberland County Commission Monday. "They want to bring their animals to us and pay us the $25,000."

Curtis Adams, city manager, told the Chronicle the city was informed by a letter from the Humane Society of Cumberland County it could no longer accept dogs from the city as the facility was full.

"They're a no-kill shelter and when they're full, they're full," Adams said.

Hill told the commission the county's shelter had been taking pets from the city at a cost of $100 per animal. He asked for permission to enter into a contract where the city would provide $25,000 per year for the county's shelter for a maximum of 250 animals.

"They are already bringing us animals, so we will charge them for those animals," Hill said.

He asked the commission to approve a resolution entering into a contract with the city, making the handshake deal official. The city has already made its first quarterly payment to the Humane Society, $6,250, and would be seeking a pro-rated fee for the remainder of the year.

Carey said he'd been talking with city officials about becoming full partners in the county animal shelter facility.

"I told them everyone wants to see the city and county work together and the best thing for all of us is to partner on a city-county shelter. They were in agreement and wanted me to talk to the commission and they would run it through the city council," Carey said at the building and grounds committee meeting Tuesday.

Adams told the Chronicle, "This is in the early stages, and we wanted them to start thinking about it. I don't think the community is big enough for two animal shelters. It makes sense to put our eggs in one basket and have one fine facility."

Crossville Police Chief David Beaty said the issue began at the first of August.

"It was going good then they said they were at full capacity," Beaty said. "Since they refused to take those animals, we had no other place to take them. The county has been good to work with us on this."

The Humane Society of Cumberland County is now a guaranteed adoption facility, which means they keep strays longer than the mandated three-day period.

According to the shelter director, Mark A. Greer, there was about a week and a half where the shelter was full and did not have the capacity for more animals. He turned away three strays brought in by animal control. On Wednesday, he said he accepted two from the city's animal control officer the day before because adoptions had made space available.

"We don't have a contract with the city right now," Greer said. "But we do try to take animals brought in by animal control as a priority."

Hill said, "What the Humane Society has decided to do, and this is to their credit, is trying to have a no-kill shelter."

He said the county facility had euthanized 840 animals through mid-June. Last year at that time, the facility euthanized more than 1,000 animals.

During discussion Monday, some members of the county commission were hesitant to approve a contract with the city they had not had time to study.

Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner, said, "I agree in principle and in the interim, we should accommodate the city as best we can. But I totally resist suspending the rules to approve a contract I haven't even seen."

Because the contract and resolution were not part of the commission's agenda, the commission would have needed to vote to suspend the rules to consider the issue.

Lynn Tollett, 3rd District commissioner, said, "Its a multi-faceted situation. But, like the mayor said, the city's got a situation. We should sanction what's going on so we have a contract per se."

There was also concern the extra animals would increase the workload, calling for another position at the county facility.

"We cut a position there because we didn't have the funding. Would this cause us bigger problems?" Mike Harvel, 7th District commissioner asked.

Hill said they would likely need additional help, either part time or full time, with appropriate certifications to euthanize the animals humanely.

"I think she'll need some additional help and I think you should take the $25,000 and figure out how you want to help her," Hill said.

Sabine moved to suspend the rules and authorize the county to accommodate the city in regard to animal control until a contract or agreement can be worked out. The motion was supported by Jim Inman, 1st District commissioner. The motion passed unanimously.

At Tuesday's meeting of the building and grounds committee, Harvel moved for Carey to pursue a partnership with the city, supported by Inman. The motion passed the committee unanimously.


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