Maryville to decide on animal shelter
By Iva Butler | ivab@thedailytimes
Since the Blount County Humane Society started partnering with the city of Maryville the group has helped make the city animal facility practically a no-kill shelter.
Society President Steve Phipps said that over the 18 months his group has been working with the shelter they have saved “well above 90 percent” of the animals.
He gave Maryville City Council an update on activities at the shelter at a work session Thursday. For a century shelters have been the biggest killers of dogs and cats from coast to coast in America, he said.
Over the past 18 months the group “has helped save 607 pets,” he said. “We have foster families that come out of the woodwork when we need them.”
However, some animals are not adoptable, such as dogs that have bitten people twice, said Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp.
Phipps said the no-kill advocates recognize the need for public safety and understands a dog that bites can’t be placed in a home.
At one time feral cats were euthanized, but the society started a barn cat program. They have a list of barns where feral, unsociable cats can be placed to catch mice and rats.
Crisp said the shelter has increased the number of days animals are kept from three to 20, “which has made a marked difference” in getting the animals adopted. He also commended the group on its fostering program.
Phipps said he understands Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell has asked Maryville to sign a contract with Blount County Animal Center to take care of the animals for a fee. Mitchell said the cities would still operate animal control.
Once city animal control officers picked up the animals they would be dropped off at the Blount County Animal Center at 233 Curie Ave., Maryville. The city of Maryville has a contract with Rockford to handle animal control in that city. Mitchell is also seeking to have contracts with Alcoa, Friendsville and Louisville.
Maryville City Manager Greg McClain said Mitchell submitted a contract to accept Maryville’s animals and the contract was sent back to the county for revision. It will be up to Maryville City Council to decide whether to partner with Blount County.
Phipps asked council to deny a contract with Blount County. He said the Blount County Animal Center has not “achieved a no-kill shelter. That would be a step backwards. We have a real partnership with the city.”
Mitchell said the county shelter has an 18 percent euthanasia rate — 44 percent for cats and 5 percent for dogs. That 5 percent for dogs would be considered a no-kill rate, Mitchell said.
Phipps said he has high hopes for the county shelter, but they have not achieved the level of saving animals as the Humane Society.
McClain said the city has three animal control officers for its approximately 17 square miles of territory, picking up everything from snakes to coyotes, along with dogs and cats.
McClain said it seems the City Council would be “choosing between two fine agencies over a matter of philosophy.”
McClain suggested that council tour both shelters and discuss the proposed contract with the county once they know what the options are.
“The kill rate is very low at the Maryville shelter,” he said.
Phipps said the society is looking for land on which to build a larger shelter, which would be a no-kill facility.