Advisory board discusses future of shelter

Published 9:45 am Friday, November 25, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden Bekah Price, far right, is introduced as the newest member of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter Advisory Board during Tuesday's meeting.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Bekah Price, far right, is introduced as the newest member of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter Advisory Board during Tuesday’s meeting.

Just one day removed from a lengthy, and at times heated, County Commission meeting, the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter Advisory and Friends of the Animal Shelter Boards met inside the courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 22, to address the future of the facility.

The County Commission addressed the issue of funding the shelter twice Monday. After a motion to allocate an additional $195,556.59 failed early in the meeting, Commissioner L.C. Tester recommended a resolution to consider giving the shelter the funding on a one-time basis to get through the fiscal year but for that money to not carry over to the next year’s budget automatically. The Tester’s motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Cody McQueen, was passed by a 14-9 margin with commissioner abstaining from the vote.

On Tuesday, the boards met to address the issue and Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey said the county now has six months “to prove we are good stewards with the funds” to the commission and city.

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Humphrey went on to discuss the details of what’s ahead at the shelter. On Tuesday, the shelter installed new washer and dryer units and the mayor added that expansion was on the horizon. Due to funding provided by an estate, the shelter was able to gather the necessary funds to undergo expansion for dog and cat areas. Humphrey said during Tuesday’s meeting that the county received two bids for expansion – the lowest at $248,628 while the highest was at $296,200. The mayor stated he was hoping to accept bids Wednesday and would hope to have a decision by no later than next week. The funding for the expansion will be covered by the estate’s funding. The estate is also covering the funding for a transit van – estimated between $30,000 and $40,000, the mayor added. The delivery for the van is expected between six to eight weeks once finalized. The van will be used to transport animals for spay/neuter opportunities offered at Lincoln Memorial and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Humphrey said, along with being utilized as a means of transportation for animals to be hauled for adoption events.

But once the van comes in, it will undergo conversion to be suitable for animals, Humphrey said. The conversion cost is expected to be covered by the Snoopy Fund.

“We’ve got to use this funding wisely,” Humphrey said about the estate and Snoopy Fund.

After a tumultuous carousel of directors, Humphrey added that the shelter can move forward as planned with the addition of Director Shannon Posada.

Chairman Mike Barnett also commended the efforts of Posada, who has been on the job for less than two weeks. Barnett brought up that he received calls from citizens praising Posada’s effort for showing kindness and compassion for an owner’s animal that passed away after an attack from another animal.

With stability at the director position, Humphrey added the county was going to begin the process of finding the right foster program for animals and begin utilizing different outlets, including restarting the shelter’s Facebook page.

The mayor also provided an update on the recent “empty the shelter” event, where over 50 dogs and cats, roughly one-third of the shelter’s population, was adopted out.

But as of Tuesday, Posada stated the shelter had a population of roughly 120 animals with around 10-15 expected to come back from areas like Petsense.

Bekah Price, who was appointed as the second city representative for the board, asked Humphrey if the shelter is euthanizing for space. Humphrey added they aren’t, adding the shelter is only putting animals down that pose a threat or have an illness.

While adding the positives are in store, Humphrey said the county will be working to better utilize the facility, adding the shelter is already understaffed with five employees and three trustees.

“We would love to have the shelter as a 501(c)3,” Humphrey said. “But until the house is in order, we are not a candidate.”