City Hall officials met with Clay County Humane Society Board President Bill Bell Wednesday morning to discuss potential concerns.
"We need to make sure the needs of the people are taken care of," Mayor Ann Bradshaw said. "It is their tax dollars that pay for the city's portion of the Humane Society's contract."
Bradshaw said her concern arose following the June 6 Humane Society meeting where former Board President Todd Pierce and Shelter Director Arlie Stacy were ousted from their positions.
According to Bell, in the four years he was board president, the shelter housed an average of 80 dogs and 70 cats on a daily basis, which essentially put the shelter at full capacity. He also said there were only 59 animals at the shelter the night of the June 6 meeting.
"We are back up to having 90 animals at the shelter right now," Bell said.
However, Bradshaw wanted assurance that the shelter would be able to maintain its contractual obligations.
"Before we met with Todd and Arlie a few months ago, we were having problems getting the shelter to take animals in and we were getting flooded with phone calls," she said. "When we have a situation with an animal running loose, we need to have a place we know will take it."
Bell informed Bradshaw, along with Clerk-Treasurer Karen McQueen and Brazil City Police Chief Terry Harrison, who were also in attendance, that the shelter is running more efficiently because the rescue centers are also doing better.
"The last few years we have sent close to 600 animals, mostly dogs, to the rescue centers to be adopted out," he said. "At the pace we are at right now, it looks like we will be able to send well over 800 this year."
While there was some speculation that the drop in the number of animals at the shelter was due to a large number of euthanizations, Bell said they were justified due to sickness and residents bringing pets in to be put down.
He also addressed other concerns that have been brought up by the community.
"There is an idea out there that we send animals off to testing facilities, which we do not. Petfinder approves all of the adoption centers we send animals to," Bell said. "I have also heard that we have been keeping animals at the shelter for 3-4 years at a time, which is also not true. The longest we have ever had an animal is 364 days and we were able to adopt that animal out as well."
Bradshaw did say things began to run smoother while Arlie was the shelter manager and hopes to continue to have a good working relationship with the Humane Society.
"People have started to come in to pay the city's portion of ordinance violations regarding the animal ordinance again and we have had access to a few pens so that we don't have officers waiting for a board member to come to the shelter," she said.
Bell said even he disagrees with some of the decisions that the current shelter co-managers and board members, but that they are making progress for the better.
"We have had a lot of shelter/kennel managers who have done a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong," he said. "But I like to focus on the good things and work from them. We are working on a lot of things and there may be some changes soon."
Both Bradshaw and Bell agreed to meet a couple more times in the coming months before the contract discussion comes up during the budget hearings.