Friday, January 20, 2012

Town Hall Meeting Jackson County Animal Shelter

First I want to thank John McKay for hosting the meeting and Troy Ross and Barry Cumbest for taking the time to attend.

I am troubled that the animal shelter plans to implement a fee for owner surrenders. While in theory since according to the shelter 50% of the animals in their care are owner surrenders this sounds like a sound plan for increasing revenue, I am afraid the unintended consequence may be more abandoned pets.

I was heartened to see the number of people raise their hands in support of a spay and neuter program that would provide low cost spaying and neutering to those who do rescue, TNR (trap neuter release) and senior citizens even if it meant a tax increase. It was also suggested that a licensing fee for breeders be implemented and that the fee could be dedicated to spay and neuter programs so a tax increase would not be necessary.  The Hard Rock is also willing to do fundraisers for the animal shelter. There was also a great deal of support for a Humane Society like the Humane Society of South Mississippi located in Gulfport instead of the county run animal shelter.

Current criticism of the animal shelter included the lack of oversight. Far to many people stated that animals were not checked for microchips, that owners were not allowed to view the animals kept in back and that pets were mistakenly euthanized without their owners having a chance to rescue them. It was also brought up that the animals are kept in deplorable condition and are not properly groomed.

There was a demand that the shelter allow people to foster animals, and that they work with rescue groups so the number of animals euthanized could be lowered. Many people mentioned working with transport groups who rescue animals from the South to take them to the North East where there is a large demand for adoptable pets. Supervisor McKay suggested starting a Friends of the Jackson County Animal Shelter but learned that there was already a friends group.

 It was also suggested that a Trust Fund dedicated to the animals and their welfare be established so people could donate directly to the animal shelter and that Supervisors commit to not using donations to offset money budgeted for the shelter.

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