• 46°

Animal Shelter Board discusses 501c3, dog catcher position

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
The Elizabethton-Carter County Animal Shelter Board held their regularly-scheduled February meeting with a couple of ongoing issues still at the forefront of discussion.

Opening the meeting, Shelter Director Shannon Posada gave an update on the current animal population at the shelter.

Current totals show there are 27 dogs and 81 cats housed at the shelter. In January, the shelter had an intake of 40 cats, 32 dogs, and one rabbit with a total of 72 adoptions for the month – including the rabbit.

Also during the month, there were 21 shelter animal cats that were spayed.

There is a special Valentine’s Day adoption event underway at the shelter and the shelter continues to take at least three cats daily to Pet Sense for adoption purposes.

Board Chairman Michael Barnett advised the board of two issues of concern at the shelter.

One involved a leak on the new outside dog enclosure and running area which has been an ongoing issue. The area had not been built that long ago according to Barnett.

Barnett advised that Joey is working with Trademark to get the issue remedied.

The second problem surrounds a pump issue which is having problems with backups. The problem has been going on since the last summer and Barnett advised that the issue is currently being worked on.

Moving deeper into the meeting there were two main areas that drew much of the remaining time.

Shelter becoming a 501c3
During the discussion, Barnett wanted to be clear about what the budget for the Fiscal year 2019-2020 had been. Barnett said that the shelter used less than $240,000.

“There is a little bit of confusion on what was allocated, what was used, and what wasn’t used,” stated Barnett. “The shelter staff has done the best they can to offset what has been given to the shelter.”

In speaking about the data graphs provide to the animal shelter board from the Carter County Financial Management Committee, board member Robert Acuff said, “I haven’t had time to look at all the data but several are incorrect as I went back to look at the documents.

“It is incumbent on us to verify because some of these are incorrect. As Ronald Reagan once said it was best to trust and verify when he was dealing with the Soviet Union.

“We need to do our own homework in things that were distributed.”

Chairman Barnett chimed in that the more information that the board had, the better it would be for them as they moved forward in the process.

“I think what this whole board wants and I think what the community wants us to do is to do the right thing,” said Barnett. “Whatever we can do to ease the burden on the taxpayers and whatever process that is but also to give a very needed service to the community.

“I would reach out to both governing boards (Elizabethton City Council and Carter County Commission) if I could to cut down on the chitter-chatter and backroom discussions going forward that they would make a resolution to their governing bodies that until this process sees fruition no matter how it goes that they will obligate to continue to support the shelter to keep the shelter open for the services that we provide the county that I think most county residents do want until we find out how we can make this 501c3 work.”

City Council liaison Michael Simerly said, “The City fully supports the animal shelter – we always have and always will. By looking at the data, it looks like that we are right there in the middle with what has been provided to us.”

Proposal for a Dog Catcher position
There continue to be issues of how to handle animals that need to be brought to the animal shelter continues to be an issue countywide.

Director Posada shared her conversation with Elizabethton Police Chief Jason Shaw about how it is becoming more a problem for his department to get animals to the shelter as 911 continues to dispatch City and Carter County Sheriff’s deputies to calls surrounding trouble calls with animals.

The 911 center continues to advise residents how to bring animals to the shelter during regular hours but after hours officers are having issues with what to do with the animals.

Posada pitched a dog catcher proposal to the Animal Shelter board due to the huge need for animal control.

In the proposal, Posada suggested that someone would be hired as a dog catcher effective March 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, when the new fiscal year begins.

The position would pay $12 per hour for 40 hours per week with benefits working a 9 am to 5 pm shift. Posada stated in doing the math, that would put the total cost at $12,587.58 for 18 weeks.

She further figured in eight hours of overtime pay per weekend which calculates to $18 per hour worked adding another $2,592 to the total.

With the truck that is available for dog catching, the tires appear to be in good shape until the next physical cycle according to Posada.

In all, Posada said the four-month total would run $16,604.58 which she suggested rounding up to $17,000.

Posada’s proposal also suggested moving that money be moved from the Sheriff’s Department which still has roughly $29,000 in it according to Carter County Commission Chairman Travis Hill that was being intended to be used for an Animal Control Officer and instead use it for the dog catcher position.

The dog catcher position would not be a sworn officer position nor would that person be carrying a weapon.

Calls would still come to 911 which would then dispatch deputies and officers and the responding personnel would determine if the dog catcher would need to be called to come and transport the animal to the animal shelter where that person would fill out a detailed intake form for the animal and then make sure it is watered and fed properly.

If the animal shelter determines there is a tag or chip, they would contact the owners to come for pickup.

Board members Acuff, Sonja Culler, and Simerly thanked Posada for the detailed work that she had put into the proposal.

A question arose from board member Kelly Collins about abused and neglected animals to which Posada responded that the District Attorney gets involved in the event a case of abuse or neglect is determined because the number one priority is to get that animal taken care of.

The board voted unanimously to approve the dog catcher position proposal as well as unanimously to present the funding request during a special called meeting which had been set on Monday, February 22 at 6 pm via Zoom.