Plans for county Blount animal shelter to get under way

The Daily Times
Ground will be broken Tuesday for the planned Blount County Animal Center, seen above in an artist’s rendering, which be located behind the Boys and Girls Club in the Eagleton community.

By Joel Davis
of The Daily Times Staff

Ground will be officially broken on the planned county animal shelter on Tuesday.
The Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation is hosting a ground-breaking ceremony on a 12-acre site located on Tyler Road behind the Boys & Girls Club, 241 Currie Ave, in Maryville.

Plans call for the new Blount County Animal Center to feature an adoption center, more than 140 kennels, a medical suite and a focus on educational outreach to address the lack of spay and neutering of companion animals in the county.

“I am thrilled,” County Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves said. “It’s fantastic. I love the way that people are coming together for this project. To some people, it has felt slow, but if you compare it to the pace that surrounding counties have taken, we’re moving pretty quickly. I’m excited about it.

“We still have a ways to go, but this is a major step. When people can see what it’s going to look like and plant their feet on the ground and get a feel for the reality of this, they’ll know we’re not just making this stuff up.”

Blount County is currently relying on the Loudon County Shelter to house homeless and abandoned animals. Animal control has been a subject of controversy since the previous County Commission declined to continue funding a contract with the city of Maryville for animal control services. That expired Dec. 31, 2007.

The current Blount County Commission voted Jan. 18 to hire an animal control officer. The Loudon County Commission has agreed to accept stray and unwanted animals at the Loudon County Animal Shelter for $4,000 per month.

On April 19, County Commission authorized spending $350,000 in seed money for an animal shelter. The commission approved the floating of a short-term loan from the county debt service fund balance to pay for the project. SMACF has been moving forward with efforts to build the shelter, but there has been some frustration expressed with the pace of the project.

Blount County Animal Control will respond to calls at (865) 228-0024 Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Fridays, an animal control representative will be in the parking lot of the old Hubbard School from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. to receive animals. County residents may bring unwanted dogs or cats there to be surrendered during those times. Blount County Animal Control can only respond to calls relating to dogs and cats.

The Animal Control Committee has authorized the animal control officer to respond to animal control calls on the weekend as well.