Blount to use Loudon animal shelter temporarily Co-op begins with arrival of new county animal control officer

February 21, 2007

MARYVILLE - Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham says the county's fledgling animal control operation could be up and running in "a week or so."

"We should be ready to roll pretty quickly," he said, now that the Loudon County Commission has approved a plan whereby Blount County's problem dogs and cats are to be taken to the Loudon County Animal Shelter temporarily until a permanent solution - in the form of an in-county animal shelter - can be established in Blount.

Cunningham said he planned to call a prospective animal control officer for the county and offer him the position Tuesday.

Assuming he accepts the job, the mayor said, he would need to give notice to his current employer and would be on the job in a relatively short time.

The county still has some issues to deal with in connection with the new service, Cunningham said, including getting the animal control truck outfitted with a radio and cages and getting phone service and uniforms for the officer.

The partnership with Loudon County is a temporary solution to Blount's lack of animal control, which began Dec. 31 when its contract with the city of Maryville for the service expired. The service with Maryville was terminated after the city informed the county that it was changing its rate structure for animal control to a per-animal, per-day charge, which would have cost the county much more than it had budgeted.

Gordon Harless, interim director of the Loudon County Animal Shelter, said that the only animals his facility can accept from Blount are the ones brought by the new officer. The only animals that will be accepted from individuals will be those from Loudon County residents, he said.

But the arrangement with Blount County's animal control officer can begin "at any time." Harless said, adding that he expects the pace to "start slower and then pick up."

He said the shelter adheres to the state's minimum 72-hour shelter requirement, but that there is no maximum in the length of time an animal may be housed there.

It is a question, he said, of "adoptability."