Animal control officer going to school

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Marshall County's animal control officer will attend a two-day Shelter Operations School in Knoxville this April along with his Lewisburg colleague.

The county commission's animal control committee made the decision at a Tuesday night meeting, their first since October.

Lewisburg's animal control officer, Neal Owen, is already registered for the school and the city has agreed funding for him to attend. The committee decided that the county's animal control officer, David Allen, should go too.

Chairman Billy Spivey reported that County accounts and budget director Freda Terry "already has the ball rolling" to get their request to the budget committee.

Committee member Scottie Poarch made the motion to ask for $475 to cover Allen's expenses and the course fee, Tony White seconded the motion, and it was unanimously approved.

Allen said that he had been talking with Terry and county mayor Joe Boyd Liggett, and they had recommended that the animal control committee put about that amount in their budget each year for training.

The committee plans to meet in March and April in order to have their budget requests prepared by May.

"Yes, let's get it done before corn planting," said committee member Tony White.

"We know a short-fall is coming our way," said Spivey. He urged everyone to come to the next meeting with their list of needs and wants.

The county and the city have a co-operative agreement for running the animal shelter on Woodside Avenue in Lewisburg. Spivey said the city has appropriated money to improve the facilities at the shelter, but the county didn't know in time to put a similar amount of money in their budget. Some of the work has already been done on improving the front appearance of the building.

Spivey said he would get with City Manager Eddie Fuller to establish a dollar amount.

"Last year they were figuring on $25,000, with the city to pay half," said Allen.

Allen reported that in 2008, 48 dogs were adopted, 75 were returned to their owners, and 674 dogs were euthanized at the shelter. In January 2009, 4 were adopted and 52 euthanized.

Allen said that he and Owen kept dogs at the shelter for three days if they came in without a tag. Dogs with a tag get an extra two days.

"If they're adoptable I'll keep them," Allen said. They judge adoptability on behavior and looks, and Allen noted that "most people want small lap dogs." He said they work closely with rescue groups.

The training he and Owen are going to in April is being put on by the American Humane Association, a non-profit membership organization headquartered in Denver. Founded in 1877, and dedicated to protecting both children and animals, American Humane is not affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that promotes the protection of animals. Nor is American Humane a parent organization of locally based, independent agencies that operate animal shelters and provide animal care and control services to their communities. However, many of those agencies are member organizations of American Humane. As such, they benefit from trainings, informational and funding resources, and national programs that increase the abilities, knowledge and effectiveness of their organizations and staff.