Blount races to finish animal shelter; Loudon County agreement ends June 30

By Joel Davis
of The Daily Times Staff

Blount County is racing to complete its new animal shelter by July 1. The shell of the new animal shelter has been completed, but there is still work to be done before it can open for business.

"We've put everything out for bid and we're waiting for all of it to come back in from the (subcontractors) and everything," County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said. "We're going to try to get the kennels up and running (by July 1). We're pushing for it. It's going to push us to do that quite frankly, but we're about to wear our welcome out in Loudon County."

Animal control has been a problem since the previous County Commission declined to continue funding a contract with Maryville for animal control services. The Loudon County Commission is accepting Blount's animals at the Loudon County Animal Shelter for $4,000 a month until June 30.

The county has been involved in a public-private partnership to build the new shelter. The Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation has been raising funds for the effort. "We're trying to put together a punch list of the work necessary to finish Phase I," said Chris Protzman, SMACF president. "The mayor's office is assembling that along with Michael Brady, the construction firm. Our rough estimates were that about $200,000 still needs to be raised to finish the components that were missing. We are really in the process of trying to analyze what work needs to be done and hopefully have a plan together on how to get those dollars and progress to finish Phase I."

The animal center is set to open in three phases. Phase I consists of operational kennels and limited office space. The animal shelter is being built behind the Boys and Girls Club, 241 Currie Ave, in Maryville.

The Blount County Commission might need to step in to ensure the kennel is operation by the deadline.

"(The county has) sent our request for proposals to see what it would cost to finish it out," Commission Chairman Steve Samples said. "I think that the commission is going to have to discuss funding the balance that is needed to get the animal shelter up and running. Loudon County has been good to us, and they've extended our contract a couple time, but we're going to have to get the shelter finished by our deadline of July 1 or as close as we can."

The estimated cost to build the facility as designed is $1.6 million. The County Commission previously appropriated $430,000, which includes $80,000 raised by the SMACF and $350,000 in seed money that the commission authorized in 2007 that allowed the core of the facility to be built.

For more information about the Blount County Animal Center project, contact Rick Yeager at 621-0539 or Protzman at 824-1700. To learn more, visit