Commission discusses animal shelter concerns

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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By JOYANNA LOVE |Managing Editor

The Chilton County Commission discussed concerns about the Humane Society of Chilton County’s animal shelter and possible other options during a work session on April 5.

The discussion stemmed from phone calls and complaints that the commissioners have received.

“The last few days we have been bombarded with phone calls about the Humane Society not taking any dogs,” Commissioner Allen Williams said.

Other commissioners talked about the phone calls and the emails they have received.

Chairman Jimmie Hardee said if the animal shelter is not accepting animals, then it is in violation of the lease agreement that county recently renewed for the property the shelter sits on.

Commissioner Joseph Parnell and Hardee said the overcrowding was due to the animal shelter taking a “no kill” approach. The shelter only euthanizes sick or aggressive animals.

“So, when they reach capacity, they just lock the door,” Parnell said.

Hardee asked what direction the commission wanted to pursue. Williams referenced property near the jail that could be used for an animal shelter and the possibility of hiring staff, if the county wanted to get into the animal shelter business.

Although the Humane Society of Chilton County is a nonprofit, it receives funding from the county and some municipalities in the county.

Parnell asked Clanton Mayor Jeff Mims, who was in the audience, to weigh in on the discussion.

“They have $150,000 in escrow right now to build a new building,” Mims said.

Mims said that when he took office two years ago, he had recommended to the Humane Society to reach out to other animal shelters from towns of a similar size and see “what’s working and what’s not and figure out how big a facility they’ve got.” Mims said money could be saved by finding a shelter design that they liked and buying the designs from the architect, instead of hiring an architect and starting from scratch.

Mims had offered that the city could help financially toward the building and worked to get other mayors on board.

The Humane Society had also been looking for a new location, due to drainage issues on the current site.

Parnell said the commission needs to research what state law requires of the county commission for animal control, and if the electronic transactions data processing fee revenue that the commission currently gives to the Humane Society of Chilton County can be increased. Increasing the fee was discussed as a way to start an animal shelter that the county would be over.

Williams was asked to research these things, and he agreed.

Commissioner Randell Kelley also suggested reaching out to other animal shelters about how they operate before a decision is made about how to move forward.

Other concerns with the current shelter arrangement included inconsistent hours, rumors about where transported animals are actually taken and that the county provides funding but has no oversight.

How much staffing would be needed and costs involved if the county established an animal shelter were also discussed.