Animal shelter gets little support

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Despite low turnout at the monthly Benton County Animal Shelter Board meeting, several fundraisers and complaints were discussed on Thursday evening. Members also discussed the need for a new chairman.

Co-chair and animal shelter director, Sharon Nields explained the board had been without a chairman since Dawn Harris resigned more than a month ago. “We need someone passionate about animals,” Nields said. “We would also love it if the candidate had animal-related non-profit experience.”

Board member, Magan North said she felt like the animal shelter had to jump through hoops to get help from the county commission. “The commission makes us feel like our hands are tied when trying to get funds allocated,” North complained. Rachelle Hill, who not only is an animal shelter board member but also a county commission explained that it was mostly a misunderstanding, but there were some issues.

One of those issues seems to be the absence of an animal control officer. According to the board members, the county commission only wanted to allocate enough funds to pay someone 20 hours a week to control the county animal population. This, all board members present agreed, is totally unacceptable.

“We are currently in a new budget,” Hill explained. “We argued long and hard that the animal shelter needs a full-time ACO with benefits because you are not going to attract the right candidate for 20 hours without benefits. This is a demanding job. What the shelter really needs is a full-time AC) the weekdays and then a part-time ACO for the weekends and the evenings.”

She continued, “The ball dropped because the budget committee said there are no more funds available. However, we are obligated to provide services to our citizens despite the fact that it cost money to do so. Animal control is obligated to be provided to our citizens. How many families are going to come to our parks if they are bitten by a stray dog while walking or hiking. We have got to provide the basic services before we worry about growing this and that.”

She finished with, “I hope all citizens will reach out to their commissioners and tell them they want to help the animal shelter.”

On another note, Nields described a fun 2K Run/Walk planned for the court square area for Sunday, October 20 with registration at 3:30 p.m. and the race to start at 5 p.m. While there still a few wrinkles that need to ironed out, Nields said she hopes that participants will volunteer to walk a dog from the animal shelter during the race.

North and Nields pleaded for citizens to get involved with the animal shelter by volunteering. According to Nields there is only one constant volunteer at this time.

For more information about the Benton County Animal Shelter, call the office at 731-584-3152.

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