City, county leaders drafting Animal Shelter agreement

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

The city's mayor is now working with the chairman of the county commission's animal control committee to draft an agreement on how the animal shelter will operate.

At a council work session Friday, Mayor Barbara Woods said she and Richard Hill would draft a document and forward it to the council. She asked councilmen to submit in writing their thoughts on what they wanted to see at the shelter on Woodside Avenue.

Woods refused to listen to a complaint from activist Jacki Moss about how a potential adopter from Marshall County was refused permission to take a dog because it was thought to be a pit bull.

"I'm going to look at what they (the animal control officers) said about the dog," Woods said. "Not what you say about the dog."

The activists at the meeting included Moss, Tisha Poling, Ken Todd, and Kendall Sanders. They handed out fliers showing 12 photos of dogs that all resemble pit-bull mixes. Only three of the dogs are actually pit-bull mixes, according to a blood-based DNA test.

"There aren't any regular volunteers" at the shelter, Woods said. She noted that the animal control officers, Willard Cates and Jason Williams, are not there "very much of the time" because they are out on calls.

This could hamper adoptions.

"We're going to have to have some hours when people can access the facility," Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. said.

Councilman Robin Minor agreed.

"At least have one there at a set time for an hour," Minor said.

One or both of the animal control officers is at the shelter between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m., for feeding and cleaning, according to discussion during the meeting in City Hall.

Whitehead attempted to turn the discussion to what the activists wanted to talk about: the legality, or otherwise, of prohibiting the adoption of pit bull dogs by county residents.

"This is not about the adoption process," he said. "It's about the pit bulls."

Woods kept her focus on what she viewed as the most important task, coming to an agreement on how the shelter will operate.

The building and land are in the city and owned by the city which pays one of the two officers. The county pays the other officer. The two men answer calls all over the county.

When people complain to County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett about the shelter he "tells everyone it's the city's facility" and that "they're talking to the wrong person," Wood said.

Nevertheless, Woods promised to collaborate with Hill and draft something that could be presented to the council.