County to help Humane Society with additional funds

Published 3:34 pm Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Chilton County Humane Society could be getting a new incinerator installed soon, after commissioners voted to help with the purchase at Tuesday’s Chilton County Commission meeting.

The ongoing discussion about the purchase of a new incinerator or repairs to the existing incinerator have spanned several months as elected officials from both the county and local municipalities have worked to figure out a way to fund the project.

Larry Saunders, who serves as the Operations Director at the Humane Society, spoke to commissioners on Tuesday night regarding the condition of the current incinerator.

“It has stopped working,” Saunders said. “We need something done soon.”

Saunders explained the grave conditions of the current incinerator, and the temporary solution Humane Society employees have resorted to.

“Since we can’t use the incinerator, we are currently resorting to using freezer space,” Saunders said. “We have a man who comes and picks up what we have in the freezer every Monday and transports that to Shelby County, but they are charging us a fee of about $100-$250 a week to do that.”

In August, several board members met with elected officials during a work session to discuss funding options for the shelter.

During the August meeting, Tom Cuthbert with the Humane Society spoke of the immediate need to fix the incinerator at the shelter.

Cuthbert told officials he had received a price in 2013 to refurbish the current incinerator of $28,000 compared to $67,000 to replace the incinerator.

Although no formal decision was made during the August meeting, the group agreed to work on coming up with additional revenue for the shelter to fix the incinerator.

During the meeting Tuesday (the meeting was rescheduled due to Columbus Day), Saunders told commissioners a company called BesTech Environmental Resources Incorporated gave the Humane Society an estimate of roughly $33,000 to install a new incinerator.

Commission Chairman Allen Caton told Saunders the Humane Society had an agreement with the county and local municipalities to pay up to $28,500 for a new incinerator.

The $28,500 was based on a quote given during the August work session.

Commissioners clarified that if the Humane Society chose to go with the quote of roughly $33,000, the Humane Society would be responsible for coming up with the remaining balance.

BesTech representative Sonny Hall spoke to commissioners Tuesday regarding the current incinerator at the Humane Society.

“The one you have now was manufactured by a company that went out of business about 15-20 years ago,” Hall said. “It is a human crematory, and has different design components. The equipment you would be having installed is not a human crematory, but our equipment is more efficient and faster to operate. It is also physically smaller.”

Commissioner Shannon Welch mentioned that if commissioners agreed to increase the county’s portion for the incinerator, the municipalities might be willing to increase their portions as well.

“I would just hate to see a few thousand dollars prevent them from being able to purchase the incinerator,” Welch said.

Agee agreed with Welch and said a phone call to representatives from each municipality was a possibility.

Commissioner Joseph Parnell made a motion to amend the Humane Society’s budget and add an additional $4,600 so that with approval from the municipalities, the Humane Society could order the incinerator from BesTech Environmental Resources Incorporated.

Everyone voted in favor of the motion.

The county’s total contribution to the Humane Society for the incinerator would be $20,600.

In other animal-related news, commissioners heard from Chilton County resident Dawn Monaco who voiced concerns during the public comments section of the meeting regarding a recent dog problem near her home.

Monaco explained her family recently relocated to Chilton County where they live on County Road 578.

“We have a neighbor who owns more than 100 dogs,” Monaco said.

Monaco said she called several different agencies to complain about the dogs including the Humane Society, animal control officer, and eventually the sheriff.

“The solution that was posed to me was to simply shoot the dogs, and I am not going to do that,” Monaco said. “I am here before you tonight because something needs to get done. We might live in the county, but rules still apply. That is our what our country is based on is rules.”

Caton told Monaco that the problem commissioners faced was lacking the authority to do anything regarding the situation.

“I know it is inhumane to be told to shoot them, and for the dogs to be left in this condition, but there isn’t much we can do,” Caton said.

Monaco explained many of the dogs had visible mange, and that many of the animals walk in the road preventing motorists from being able to drive.

“If you need the extra leg work or extra help, I am more than willing to do it,” Monaco said. “I am just not going to shoot them. I am not blaming the sheriff, or the Humane Society; I am blaming the owner of the animals, but something has to be done.”

Parnell said even if the county passed an ordinance, it would be at the sheriff’s discretion to enforce it.

“I understand your plight, I just wonder if there is anything we can do to help you,” Parnell said.

Agee spoke up and said if many of the dogs were affected with mange, it could pose a health threat.

“It seems like this might be a public health issue,” Agee said. “I don’t know if the health department could do something about this or not, but it is just a thought.”

Caton told Monaco he would contact the Chilton County Health Department and check on the situation.

For more from Tuesday’s meeting, check an upcoming edition of The Clanton Advertiser or for updates.