New committee working with Clay County Humane Society

Friday, February 17, 2006

- More than 1,200 calls placed to animal shelter

Animal control issues are a concern throughout Clay County for citizens and law enforcement alike. According to information provided by the Clay County Humane Society, law enforcement agencies and concerned citizens placed 1,271 animal related calls to the shelter during 2005.

The shelter, located at 8280 N. C.R. 125 W., took in 974 dogs, puppies, cats and kittens to house at the facility, of which, 576 were collected from the city of Brazil and 398 were from the county.

The animals were then adopted (163), sent to Animal Rescues (533) or housed until homes could be found for them.

Putting past differences behind them, the Mayor's office and the newly formed Animal Control Committee have joined forces with the Clay County Humane Society in an effort to control the city's stray pet population.

Mayor Tom Arthur told The Brazil Times he wanted to take a proactive approach to animal control issues and created the committee because of concerns expressed by city residents.

Arthur asked city council members Jim Sheese and Ann Bradshaw, Police Chief Mark Loudermilk, and city residents Darla Gelmeier and Angela Post to participate on the committee.

The group met a couple of times to brainstorm and review past complaints while considering ordinance changes before asking the Clay County Humane Society for input in drafting new ordinances.

Attending the Monday meeting on behalf of the Humane Society was Shelter Director Rick Moore, Board President Bill Bell and board members Roxanna Tisdale and Rosemary Campbell.

Both Moore and Bell said their first meeting with the committee was a huge leap in the right direction for changing animal control issues that have plagued the city and the shelter for years.

"The committee members definitely were open to suggestions and showed a great interest in protecting animals," Moore said. "It was a real compliment for us to be invited because the council can pass ordinances without any input from the shelter."

Feeling reassured by the great rapport at the meeting, Moore said it was a good feeling being in a better working relationship with the city.

Bell agreed, "I felt good leaving that meeting."

Arthur agreed.

"We've had rough meetings in the past, but the contract is settled for the next three years," he said. "It's time to let old wounds heal and move on to a good working relationship."

The temporary committee will meet a few more times with the shelter to discuss possible improvements to spay and neuter ordinances, collection of stray pet fines, a more efficient way to unite a lost pet with its owner and other ideas for animal ordinance improvement before presenting the final draft to the city council.

Arthur hinted the group could be called into action whenever an animal control issue needing evaluation comes to the attention of his office.

"Although it is a temporary committee, we could meet whenever the need arose," Arthur said Tuesday.

The public is invited to attend Animal Control Committee meetings at the Council Chambers in City Hall. The meetings will be announced in The Brazil Times, but for more information please contact Mayor Arthur's office at 443-2221.

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