Loudon may help Blount's animal problem

By Joel Davis
of The Daily Times Staff

Blount County could end up hiring an animal control officer and contracting with Loudon County Animal Shelter to house stray or unwanted animals through the end of June.

Meanwhile, the Animal Control Committee is officially asking for community proposals from nonprofit groups willing to finance and run an animal shelter.

Steven Phipps of the Blount County Human Society made the proposal at the Blount County Animal Control Committee on Tuesday.

Phipps had researched the idea and presented his findings to the committee.

"There are not a lot of options for short-term, but there is one I stumbled across that could be a short-term solution," he said.

Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp is willing to agree but will discuss the matter with him.

"He indicated that, in a spirit of reciprocity, they would have us down there for the rest of the fiscal year," Cunningham said.

As the committee considered the proposal, it heard a dramatic appeal from a county resident whose sister had been bitten by an aggressive dog on New Year's Day.

Warren Sullivan had hard words about the previous County Commission for not funding animal control in the county.

"Thank God, they're not in office now," he said. "Every one of them should have been fired for putting the public into danger. You don't not fund a safety program because of money."

Committee Chairman Steve Samples told Sullivan, and his sister Carrie, that the new commission was working hard as possible to fix the situation.

"I certainly am sorry that your sister was attacked by a dog," "I wouldn't want that to happen to anybody.

Carrie Sullivan said she felt let down by Blount County's public safety officials.

"When the Sheriff's Office tells me that the solution is walking on a different street that's not acceptable," she said.

The committee will present any agreements for approval from the full County Commission at its meeting next week.

Under the proposal, Blount County would enter a five-month contract with the Loudon County Shelter to house the animals at a cost of about $25 per animal per day.

Estimated costs to Blount County for five months would be about $18,750 to house the animals, $14,583 for pay an animal control officer's salary for five months and about $16,000 for a vehicle and fuel.

Blount County would only be able to offer the most basic animal control services during this time.

The county's contract with the city of Maryville for animal control services expired at the end of 2006.

The Animal Control Committee has requested proposals from community organizations interested in funding and running a new animal shelter. Proposals are due Feb. 16.

A group of local citizens are in the process of incorporating a nonprofit organization to create a shelter.

Rick Yeager of the Blount County Animal Rescue Effort is one of these individuals.

"It's going to be at least a year-and-a-half to get something in place," he said, adding that he hopes the county can extend the contract with Loudon County longer than five months.

The county has been looking for animal control options since commissioners made the decision not to fully fund the amount requested by the city of Maryville in the 2006-2007 budget.

The commission's Animal Control Committee is developing criteria that community organizations would have to meet in order to provide an acceptable level of animal control services.

There have been other public safety incidents involving animals.

On Tuesday, two Rottweilers attacked a Shetland sheepdog owned by Robert Graves, who lives on North Wingate Way.

According to reports, the dog required surgery for injuries suffered in the attack. A deputy later had to fire his weapon when charged by the dogs, but no animals were injured.
Last modified: January 11. 2007 2:13AM