Committee Studies Animal Shelter Ideas

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The committee to study the stray animal problem here in Cannon County met at the courthouse Thursday evening with County Executive Mike Gannon. Gannon appointed and looked for volunteers to study possible ways to aid with the stray animal problem in this county.

The committee consists of three commissioners and two concerned citizens. Mark Vanzant, a local realtor, and Anna Pittman, a local businesswoman who owns Fine Swine Barbeque on the square, joined Commissioner Clint Higgins of the 4th District and Jimmy Mingle of the 2nd  District and Bob Stoetzel of the 5th District in studying different ways to take care of the loose animal population that has plagued the county for many years.

Vanzant and Pittman are no strangers to Mike Gannon. For years they have brought this problem to him for help. Vanzant, who lives on B Tenpenny Road, has had hundreds of animals dropped off by people who evidently could not take care of these animals or they could not bring themselves in terminating their lives.

Vanzant asaid he has over 1600 signatures of people from around the county all saying they are in favor of a shelter for these animals, “I believe I could have gotten 5,000 signatures if I had not stopped taking the list around,” Vanzant said.

Mrs. Pittman, who lives in the Hopewell area off of Dickens Hill in the Indian Springs area, said they have  the same problem.

“It is disheartening,” she told the committee. “In Indian Springs we have a Home Owners Association that mandates that all animals are behind fence or on a leash.”

State Law controls animals running loose for which you can be fined in court; basically a leash law.

“It is not our neighbors who are breaking the law, it is people who carelessly come to our area of the county and maliciously drop off anything from a litter of kittens to Great Pyrenees on the unsuspecting residents,” Mrs. Pittman said.

The committee went through several different scenarios on how to be able to pay for a shelter. But almost all of them concerned having a building either built or using one of the facilities that the county already owns.

If a county building was used it would certainly have to be away from neighborhoods. The land that was set aside for the Humane Society over 20 years ago is still undeveloped. Money had been raised for the project by local incentives, but nothing ever materialized.

In fact, Gannon says that there has been nothing done on the matter at all; he says that it is a surety that taxes have not been paid on it. The most likely scenario is that after everything fell through on the original shelter. the interested parties left the area.

Basically the  county could still own  the property by default.  If there are taxes owed on it then the county could sue to get the property back. This parcel was located in the industrial park past the Convenient Center just above the circle drive.

It was also discussed whether to build a block facility or whether to make it a metal building which would be cheaper. Another idea for the time being would be to enter into a contract with a neighboring county that would keep them for us for a fee.

Mr. Vanzant has talked with Sheriff  Darrell Young and found that if the county had a Humane Officer, the officer would have to be able to arrest people (for animal cruelty or allowing animals to run at large), which means the officer would very likely be attached to the Sheriff Dept. That would be a good thing, but that also means there has to be money for it.

Commissioner Higgins feels that if the shelter was to be manned like it should be, salaries alone could cost up to $100,000 a year. In these tough economic times that will be the hard part. Vanzant says that every shelter he has inquired into has an enormous amount of volunteer help. These volunteers are animal lovers and they were glad to be a part of such an operation.

The committee would be very much appreciative of any help in trying to fix this situation and welcomes any constructive input. Letters can be sent to Mike Gannon in care of the Courthouse and he will put them on file and bring  them before the committee. “This is a very worthwhile project and we as a county need to find a way to make it happen,” says Commissioner Bob Stoetzel.

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March 11, 2011 at 8:51am
If it didn't cost so much to fix an animal we might not have so many stray animals. I keep geting some one dropping pregnant cats off and then they have babies. Right now I am stuck with three boys and have no way of fixinf them. Allof my other animals are fixed. I went and got a price to fix them and get there shots and it was going to cost me over $400.00, So at this moment they are no fixed. Please approve the shelter or help out with fixing the animals.
March 11, 2011 at 12:16pm
goofyred, Some vets will give a discount if you have several animals that need to be spayeyed/neutered. Just call and ask and tell them the situation. I believe Williams animal clinic in Murfreesboro has done this before.
March 11, 2011 at 12:49pm
Considering that Cannon's unemployment rate jumped from 9.4 percent to 11.6 percent recently and the disclosure that we're millions in the hole, I don't see this gaining any traction in the near future.

If you really want to make a difference, there are lots of rescue sites you can add unwanted/stray dogs to. People who wish to adopt usually pay the spay/neuter fee.
March 11, 2011 at 2:01pm
Strays being dumped is a big problem in this county. Also pet owners letting their animals run loose. For some reason alot of pet owners in the Woodland/Hollow Springs area think its ok and their right to let their animals roam. Our dog's (which are in a secure area) have been attacked by these roaming animals. It's not right that nothing is being done about this.
March 11, 2011 at 7:07pm
Please tell me we are not seriously thinking about spending our tax dollars on a shelter for animals when we have children in this county that need a shelter!! There are children whose only meals are at school. There are children in this county who eat lunch on Friday and do not eat until they come to school on Monday morning. We have families living in terror, because they have no where else to go. I do feel for those who have to deal with strays. Maybe we can find private funds to pay for a shelter maintained and staffed by volunteers. PLEASE put our needy children before our needy animals!
March 11, 2011 at 7:30pm
choateo, where are these children who are without shelter and who are going hungry? Where are these families who are living in terror? It's fine and dandy to put something out there indicting these situations exist, but I have seen no evidence of it. Please enlighten me. On the other hand, while driving to work Thursday morning I saw a pack of about 10 dogs congregated along John Bragg Highway near the Arts Center. I saw first hand that the problem of abandoned, uncontrolled animals exists. That said, please tell me on how I can get in touch with these families and children who are going without food and shelter, and I will do everything and anything our paper can do to find help and assistance for them.
March 11, 2011 at 8:49pm
There are many in this county that are assisting families with needs and that will never fact the availability of assistance improves almost daily. The issue of unwanted animals will never go away or get better if we don't start doing something about it. And redeemed, yes there are many rescue organizations, but they are struggling day to day to have enough funds to take care of the animals they already have in their programs, much less adding to them. You will not find it so easy to place animals in these rescue groups. And yet a bigger concern is their legitimacy. There are many so called rescue groups out there that are in it to make money off of the adoption fees and the animals are in no better shape in the so call shelters as they were on the streets. Believe me I have found animals locked in hot stock trailers in 98 degree summer weather with no water and tied under trees with no shelter or water to just mention a couple and these are being ran by people that have pretty websites and cute forever home ending stories to lead you to believe they are truly caring. So be careful about who you turn these animals over to.
March 11, 2011 at 8:59pm
I contacted the Beasley Animal Clinic from Warren County when I took in a stray cat. They have a traveling neuter/spay clinic. I took my cat to them while they were working in Liberty. They do not charge a fee but take whatever donation you can give. It would be great if we could get them to come to Cannon County.
March 11, 2011 at 9:02pm
Thank you for your offer Mr. Halpern. PLEASE come to the high school on any given day and bring some groceries. While I cannot give you names because of confidentiality reasons, I assure you these children exist. They are in every school. We often have kids come in and tell us they have not eaten. They live with no running water. They have little or no heat in the house. We have found students sleeping in their cars in the parking lot, because they have no where else to go. I understand that you may not have personal knowledge of these kids unless you work with them on a daily basis.

If you sincerely want to help, please contact Lisa Baird at SAVE. She works tirelessly to help these families. I would have NO problem giving SAVE that $100,000.

Yes, Mr. Halpern, unfortunately these children do exist. They are in the shadows. While they do not walk our streets like packs of dogs, they do walk the halls of our schools.
March 11, 2011 at 9:24pm
cheateo, I speak with Lisa almost every day. As I am sure you know there is an active food bank directly across from her office to help those who are in need. I do not dispute there are those who need help, but as long as they remain in the shadows it decreases the likelihood they will be helped. I too would like to hand Lisa $100,000, but both you and I know the community is not likely to do that anytime soon. The issue discussed in this story is abandoned animals, and it too is one that needs to be addressed, one way or the other,
March 11, 2011 at 9:35pm
It would cost much more than Cannon Co can afford to build/staff/run an animal shelter. Often times these well meaning shelters fill with animals to the point of overcrowding and then the animals aren't cared for properly because of finite resources. These animals will need much nursing and medical care. Some of this care must be provided by a licensed veterinarian. Depending on volunteers is wishful thinking. If anything is to be done an agreement with an established local shelter would be the only feasible solution. Even then animal control officers must be hired and trained and a fleet of vehicles must be purchased and maintained. And of course here in Cannon Co abuse and malcare of large animals complicates the problem and potential facility design. It is a complicated problem with no easy solution. TnTnTn
March 11, 2011 at 9:57pm
If kids can afford a car to sleep in why can't they afford food? Animal control is easy 1. 22 rifle-$119.00, 2.Box of 22 hollow points $5 problem solved.
March 12, 2011 at 9:02am
In most counties an animal shelter is publicly funded by donations from the public. If you will notice that is the same way that SAVE works here in the county. While the name is Cannon County SAVE it is funded by donations and grants that it gets though out the year. An animal shelter can be done the same way. There are grants available for shelters and some local veterinarians could also make donations to the shelter as well.
March 12, 2011 at 9:31am
Thank you Kevin. The need does need to be addressed. We have seen whole litters of puppies with the mama dog dumped at the end of our road many times. Over the years some have come to our house and our neighbors. One time we had 10 dogs roaming trying to find a home. Some die along side the road. Its awful. We can only do so much. We need some help with these strays!
March 12, 2011 at 9:36am
It's wonderful that SAVE does receive donations. I also hope everyone shows their support for SAVE during its festival in May. I hope the Auburntown, Woodbury and Cannon County governments can afford to make some contribution to SAVE during the next fiscal year.

However, most of all I hope Lisa finally lands one of the large grants she has working hard to acquire. Her clients need the resources the money can provide, and Lisa needs some too. She works way to hard for a very little amount of money.
March 12, 2011 at 10:18am
Kevin, you are so right about Lisa and her hard work. I do appreciate her hard work for her cause and hope she lands the large grant as well. Everyone can keep up to date with what SAVE is doing on their Facebook page.

I just hope that if it is decided that a animal shelter should be run on donations that they can find someone as dedicated and works as hard as Lisa does.
March 12, 2011 at 11:23am
Commissioner Higgins has checked into grants for this type of venture and so far none have been available. Rutherford County was taking our animals, but as everyone pointed out the money is tight. They had previously contacted Gannon and told him that 20% of all their animals were from Cannon County and that they could no longer take them for free.
So far most of these posts have been negative, believe me we have gone over everything that you have mentioned. We need you to post possibilities and then we might be able to move on.
Thanks Bob Stoetzel, 5th District Commissioner.
March 12, 2011 at 11:32am
It does occur to me there may be other cities and counties around the state or nation experiencing a similar problem, and who are also in financial straits. Has any member of the committee checked around to see what others are doing to handle the problem?
March 12, 2011 at 12:40pm

I would suggest a fund raiser of some sort for this idea during the Good Ole Days or perhaps a road block.

I would also suggest seeing if there was any available land to actually build a shelter on that maybe someone could donate a small portion of.

I would suggest asking local businesses to donate supplies to help build it or at least a discount on the total cost (like 20% off).

I would suggest having a day set aside for volunteers to come help build the new shelter if money is found to build it.

I would suggest getting our local veterinarians to volunteer some time to care for the animals when it is built.

I would also try for grants from the following that I found online in about 2 minutes:

American Humane Society
PETCO Foundation
PetSmart Charities Grants Programs

There were many more, but I didn't have time to research them all.
March 12, 2011 at 6:56pm
I agree with Victosdomino. I am unable to afford all of these animals that are getting dropped off on to me. Traveling to Murfreesboro and then getting the cat done would be like paying full price here in Cannon. I have asked the two vets that we have in Cannon and all they have is a payment plan not a low cost price. I guess I have only one choice on taking care of all of these deopped off animals.
March 12, 2011 at 8:53pm
Sadly, teachers aren't considered a credible source these days. I am an animal lover (that's really an understatement; I own multiple dogs and cats that live indoors), but I agree with you 100%! This isn't the time to spend taxpayer dollars on an animal shelter.

Just last week, a teacher at our school took groceries to some students in need. These kids will always "remain in the shadows." They typically don't announce, "Hey, there's nothing to eat at my house. Can you help?" Teachers often sense when something's not right and try to find out what the problem is and help. I don't really understand why
anyone wouldn't take your comment seriously and insinuate that these kids don't exist. Apparently, teachers in our county aren't respected anymore, and it's just "fine and dandy" to politely bash comments from them. I guess if people don't actually see the evidence of any situation in our schools with their own eyes, it simply doesn't exist. Thank you choateo for caring for our kids!

One additional note: I do understand the importance of taking action/making plans regarding the animal control
problem in our county, but had to attest to choateo's concerns being valid.
March 13, 2011 at 6:30am
scrabble: 1) I had no knowledge when I responded to choateo's original post she is a teacher. 2) I have no doubt there is truth in what she said, and I will look into the situation and see what can be done about it. 3) I hear a lot of claims about many "situations" in the community and before I can do anything about the information I do have to see with my own eyes they do exist.
March 13, 2011 at 8:24pm
Let me first say that I think the shelter is a great idea and one I would hope comes to fruition.

But, I have to ask this question to everyone. And I mean no disrespect when I ask it.

Is it me or are priorities a little mixed up when we have three County Commissioners working on providing an animal shelter and zero County Commissioners working on the idea of building a new school for our children?

Now before you go bashing me, I mean that as a serious question and not a slur in anyway.

I asked that question to Barbara Parker if there was any joint committee involving the County Commissioners working toward the school building program. She told me "no not at this time".

Bob, I will ask you my next question and that would be: Why? Is it because ya'll were not invited or some other reason?

I know this topic is about the animal shelter and not the schools, but when I read where three of you were working on this project it hit home that none of you were working on the school project.

Again, no offense intended. It is merely a question I am curious about!
March 13, 2011 at 9:23pm
Scrabble, thank you for your kind support. My heart is broken every day when I see what my students have to live through. I believe our children are not only our future, they are our present. I have no hard feelings toward Mr. Halpern. I guess I should have stated that I was a teacher. I, too, love animals, but I love my kids more.

Mr. Halpern, we would appreciate any offer of help for our students. Thank you for the service you provide for our community.
March 14, 2011 at 6:18am
Corey, were I a lawyer I would contend you are introducing facts not yet in evidence. To the best of my knowledge there is no "school building program" and if there is one, it has not been brought before the county commission. The animal control problem was brought before the county commission and a committee was appointed to try and come up with solutions. That has not been the case with school buildings.
March 14, 2011 at 9:28am
Kevin, here I have all this time thought you were a Lawyer! How did I get that confused?

I wasn't trying to introduce facts not into evidence; I was asking the question why was someone from the County Commission was not included into the idea of building a Middle School.

I know we don't have any semblance of a building program, but that should not be a reason not to include them on a committee to investigate the idea. They could have answered a lot of the questions posed at the open forums that were presented to the public.

If we need three on the committee to build an animal shelter, it just stands to reason we would need two or three on a committee to build a Middle School or any school for that matter.

Especially considering they are the ultimate say on the issue of money. Wouldn't you agree?
March 14, 2011 at 9:43am
Corey, I am not aware that any county commissioners were invited or encouraged to be on the Middle School Study Group. Then again, I am not aware of any plans to build a school.
March 14, 2011 at 12:27pm
Fundraising and volunteers is what we need to get a shelter going. I would think that there are enough good folks in this great county to donate either by a donation or through fundraising events to pull the dollars together that are needed. I for one would be the first one to volunteer at a shelter--I would love it. I live off Sycamore Creek/Pleasant Ridge and we have had dozens and dozens of dogs that have just been dumped on our dirt road and it makes me sick. I always drag them home and "foster" them until I find a home. I had 16 dogs in one weekend deposited in our drive so a shelter is needed in Cannon County.
March 14, 2011 at 2:17pm
Corey, I don't check this page every day, so I hope that you know I wasn't on line to answer you and not just ignoring you. In actuality Mike asked for those commissioners that wanted to be on this committee to volunteer. Everyone of us volunteered. Mr. Vanzant and Mrs. Pittman were on the committee because, they brought it to the commission as a problem needing a solution. As Kevin Halpern states there is no middle school issue. Barbara Parker stated in her opening speech at Auburn School that the reason why they were doing this community meeting and fact finding mission was that it was put in the Courier as a question. The parents in their respective communities were the ones who started the questions to the school board. And finally, we three commissioners can actually do more than one thing at a time. We can think about a animal shelter and a middle school. I neglect no one, teachers included, but if we don't have money there is no animal shelter or middle school.
March 14, 2011 at 2:41pm
I would like to take a little issue with Director Parker stating the idea of a middle school came about because of the Courier brought it up. I do so based on a search of past stories on our web site. This is the first one I found broaching the subject:

School Board To Explore Adding Middle School

Posted: Monday, March 8, 2010 9:03 pm

Cannon County's Board of Education will begin discussing the possibility of adding a middle school when it meets for a school board retreat later this month.

During a board workshop Monday night to go over the agenda for Tuesday night's board meeting at East Side School, chairman Randy Gannon asked fellow board members if they wanted to put the topic of incorporating a middle school into the system on the list of things to discuss at the retreat.

Board members Shannon Davenport and Chris Blackburn both indicated a middle school is a subject they have received inquiries about recently from several parents and citizens.

Gannon said he also wants to get input from the community on both the need and desire for a middle school.

Currently Cannon County has six elementary schools, serving students through the 8th grade, all feeding into one high school, for grades 9 through 12.

While the middle school topic is not on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting at East Side School, which begins at 6 p.m., it will be for the board retreat which is scheduled for March 29.
March 14, 2011 at 3:06pm
Bob I am certain you guys can do more than one thing at a time. At least I would certainly hope you could.

My intent was not to belittle the idea that you were focused on the animal shelter and neglecting the schools or teachers if that was the way you interpreted it.

I was actually more concerned that you were NOT asked to be on the committee to look at building the schools. And that decision, lack of involvement or blame lies with whoever came up with the idea to hold an open forum to discuss schools. It was not very well thought out or handled by not including some of the County Commissioners from the word GO!

I wasn't blaming you guys for not being on the committee, I was asking if the reason you weren't was it because you were not invited. That was the question I wondered that only you guys could answer. In my opinion, there should have been two or three of you on that committee because like I said earlier you could have answered a lot of questions and you guys are directly involved with the money aspects.

Kevin I am sure Mrs. Parker is probably talking about the recent poll you placed on the Courier asking about the desire for a middle school.
March 14, 2011 at 3:13pm
Corey, you a likely correct, but I didn't want it to appear as though the reason a middle school is being discussed at this time is because it was an idea the Courier came up with one day.

March 15, 2011 at 5:40am
Some In this county think we need a animal shelter but the question is will the people of the county be willing to pay for it.from what I gather just from the numbers in the paper we are lookin a hundred thousand for staff and a officer after the building.warren county shut there public animal shelter down because they couldn't pay for it.since warren has probably 3 or 4 the population and tax base that we do I don't see it happening.the money isn't here folks,and people are not going to pay the higher taxes for it when there are more pressing things on the table.
March 15, 2011 at 6:37am
The reason we have no money is because we have no tax base.

The reason we have no tax base is because we have no businesses or industry.

The reason we have no industry or businesses is because everyone wants to keep Woodbury like Mayberry and wonder why we can't build things like an animal shelter or better schools, etc.

It is a cycle that will continue as long as we keep ignoring the problems in the hopes they don't exist.

And one that will ultimately drive us in to non-existence.
March 16, 2011 at 6:18pm
My heart went out to you when I heard the call for an officer to respond to your home go out this morning over the police radio. Instances of this nature have been happening frequently of late. People need to make a much greater effort to keep their pets confined and under control.
March 16, 2011 at 6:56pm
There is nothing to a person like a beloved pet. I consider mine to be a furry child, I love her. Never underestimate the love of a southerner for their dogs. I also believe taking care of animals gets you a little closer to God.
Corey, you are correct we were not asked. All we could tell them anyway is we have no money. But let me say this on open forum, I would pay twice the amount of taxes that I do just to be able to live in Cannon County.
March 16, 2011 at 8:25pm
Bob like you I would pay twice the amount in taxes I am paying in order to live here and to help build a school. I am a firm believer in putting up or shutting up.

I have been silent for long enough and now that I am more able to speak I am trying my best to do what I can to make it a better place to live and work. I encourage as many people as I can to join me in this endeavor.

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