* Area residents were not in favor of the Animal Rescue
Editor's Note: Due to the nature of recent comments on this story, the comment section has been omitted.
It wasn't a favorable decision to those in attendance, but the City of Brazil has entered into a new animal control contract.
By a 4-0 vote (Council member Pat Heffner was not present), the Common Council of the City of Brazil chose the services of the Clay County Animal Rescue, Inc., 763 S. State Road 59, Center Point, for animal needs within the city limits during Wednesday's special meeting.
At the start of the meeting, Mayor Ann Bradshaw opened the floor to audience comments, of which there were plenty.
County resident LeAnn Rhodes, who is a neighbor of the rescue, represented her neighborhood in opposing the potential contract. Her main concerns regarded the noise coming from the rescue, which is owned by John and Chrystll Owens, the potential for diseases from the animals and the lack of a formal facility on the property.
"How are they going to be able to fulfill the terms of the contract when they don't even have a facility," Rhodes said. "There are dogs barking 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, and it is a nuisance."
She described how she has noticed there were times the animals were not being taken care of, and claimed to have issues with animals running loose from the property.
"We have a neighborhood and I don't think this is someone who is truly an animal activist," Rhodes said.
The council has been in discussions with the Owens' since early January, after the Clay County Humane Society turned down its offer of $12,500 to extend the previous contract. In recent years, the contract had been for $25,000, but due to citywide budget cuts, the council was unable to offer more than they did.
Former Humane Shelter Manager Arlie Stacy was also not in favor of agreeing to a contract with the Animal Rescue, and questioned the Owens' ability to efficiently respond to calls.
"I do not see how it is possible for a makeshift shelter in southern Clay County to respond (to city calls) in a timely manner in case of emergency," he said.
However, he also said he understood there are concerns with the Humane Society and suggested a complete overhaul of animal control in the area.
"During the time that I was the (shelter) manager, I witnessed complete and total incompetence of the sitting board of the Humane Society," Stacy said. "Take back the shelter, revoke the lease if necessary, dissolve the Clay County Humane Shelter Board, and put in place responsible people who can and will do what is necessary to care for the animals by what means are necessary."
He added new ordinances needed to be made and enforced, along with the implementation of yearly fees for tags to help generate revenue and show a strong front for the care of animals.
"I feel that the course of action is that you, as our elected officials, are to stand up and say enough is enough," Stacy told the council. "Pass required ordinances, hold people responsible, enforce the ordinances and take charge."
Other patrons of the meeting also expressed opposition to the Animal Rescue and some provided support for the Humane Society.
Animal Rescue co-owner John Owens followed up on the opposition by outlining some of the details of his rescue.
"We do have fabricated kennels that were special ordered and also have dog houses inside of the pens so they do have protection from the weather," he said. "We have not given false ideals about what we are doing and what we plan to do."
The Owens' have maintained that they plan to construct a new building on the grounds in the spring, and said they currently have seven pens set up for the 15 animals they currently are housing.
John added they have additional lots where they could house animals, if needed, and said he had not been previously notified about the concerns from the neighbors.
"We have not been contacted, except for once by LeAnn, about any issues," John said. "While we do have seven pens up now, we do have another 30 I can construct when they are needed."
Rhodes disputed his statement by saying she had contacted the Owens' numerous times and said she was disappointed the council had not spoken with area residents about the potential contract.
"I feel the decision has already been made without talking to any taxpayers," Rhodes said. "And I think that is a shame."
Despite the massive opposition by the approximately 35 individuals in attendance, the council felt they had no choice but to move forward with something, even if it is for a limited amount of time.
"Our hand has been forced to some extent to where we have to do something," council member Sam Glover said.
Council Vice-President Steve Lamb concurred with Glover's statement.
"If we don't do something tonight, we are at the mercy of the Owens' to help the city without any kind of compensation," Lamb said. "We have already made calls to them on animal issues and responded when no one else would."
Lamb made the motion to approve the contract and council member Bill Lovett provided a second to the motion.
Should the Clay County Animal Rescue not fulfill terms of the contract, which City Attorney Bob Pell said is almost a mirror image to previous contracts with the Humane Society, the city can terminate the contract with a 60-day notice.