Mount Carmel Holds Public Hearing May 20 on Fate of Municipal Animal Shelter | Pets


MONT CARMEL – The Mount Carmel animal shelter remains closed, but the mayor’s council and aldermen voted unanimously on Thursday to hold a public hearing on May 20 to find out what town residents think on the matter.

The service of shelters and animal control in general has become a controversial issue and the subject of multiple heated debates since the BMA received a report earlier this year that the facility where the kennels are located is unsafe and requires major repair or replacement.

Police chief Ken Lunsford Jr. told the BMA that a contractor estimated it cost $ 40,000 to repair the structure, and another told him he would not even touch the building.

Earlier this month, City Manager Mike Housewright reported that he had closed the shelter, which is located inside the property of the Mount Carmel Sewage Treatment Plant. At the moment, animal control officer Sherry Sexton is responsible for transporting stray cats and dogs to the Hawkins County Humane Society in Rogersville.

“A service to be proud of has been deleted”

On Thursday, however, Deputy Mayor Tresa Mawk told the board that she was adamantly opposed to the shelter being closed.

Reading a statement, she noted that Mount Carmel has had an animal shelter for decades and that she believes it can be remodeled. Transporting stray animals to Rogersville deprives local residents of the right to recover their lost animals in their hometown, Mawk added.

“We, among other cities, are now enforcing a shelter with already too many animals, not enough funds and a poor building themselves,” Mawk said. “God bless these people (from the Hawkins County Humane Society). May He strengthen their hearts and minds for what they’re doing.

“If the Hawkins County Shelter is unable to take the animals, then what happens to them?” Are they allowed to run freely regardless of their well-being? “

Mawk added, “We had a shelter that provided food, shelter, security and human companionship. Medical care was provided by citizens out of pocket. A service to be proud of has been cut. I find it appalling, I feel angry and I am sad.

“At the time it was built, it was of poor quality”

Housewright told the BMA that the facility was substandard and unsafe.

“If you all want to rebuild the facility, that’s fine, but I can’t in good conscience keep people and animals in this facility,” Housewright said. “Just because it’s worked so far doesn’t mean it’s always been safe. In fact, at the time it was built, it was of poor quality.

Alderman John Gibson has requested that the animal control program be added to the budget workshop scheduled for May 13.

With an annual budget of $ 66,000 for the program, Gibson noted that the shelter only welcomed 62 animals in 2020.

“It’s $ 1,064 per animal that walks through the door,” Gibson said. “There are cheaper ways to take care of animals. … The amount we are spending on animal control is too high.

“Before we look at anything else with animal control, I think we first need to decide how much money as a city we are willing to spend on animal control because $ 66,000 is not are not the best expense in my opinion, ”added Gibson.

Gibson asked Lunsford to provide the board with available expenditure and animal population data so that they could compare usage and cost figures from previous years.

“Express their opinion because it is a service for them”

Alderman Steven McLain’s motion to hold a public hearing on the matter at the May BMA meeting was approved 7-0.

McLain said he also agreed with Gibson’s suggestion for a discussion at the budget workshop.

“I would always like to have a public hearing and let the public express their opinion because it’s a service to them,” McLain said.

“I have a lot of animals myself, and if we applied our animal control policy, that number of 62 animals would probably increase to 620 – if we implemented what we have in the books,” he said. he declares.

“I would hate to see a lot of citizens going to Rogersville to pick them up when we are paying our animal control officer to take them there.

The regular monthly meeting in May, originally scheduled for May 27, has been postponed to May 20 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall at the request of Mayor Pat Stilwell.

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