I am very embarrassed to admit that although I have been on the city council some 13 years, I had never visited our animal control shelter. A few weeks ago, our office cat went missing so my wife Vonnie went to the shelter to see if Butch Chafin (our animal control officer) had picked him up. He had not but Vonnie came home upset about the number of animals at our shelter. Butch does a good job but we (the city and county) have not given him the tools, resources, knowledge, or facilities to run that shelter in a first class manner. There are too many dogs for the number of cages, cats are in the same building, adoption procedures need to be improved, and some animals were reaching end of their allotted “time.”.
So this put Vonnie on a mission. And when Vonnie is on a mission, guess what? Shelly is on a mission. I visited the facility and then visited a great facility in Cochran in order to compare. We have LOTS of room for improvement. However, I want to let everyone know that improvements have already started – things work SLOWLY in government but great things ARE going to happen.
- Vonnie got a great home for one of the dogs and then posted pictures of the other dogs and that got re-posted on Facebook. Now several of the dogs have been adopted.
- Fencing is being donated to the city and our workers will install the fencing at the facility in order to give the dogs a place to run and provide a holding pen.
- We are taking a large portable building there and will convert it to the cat facility in order to separate the dogs and cats. (Update: We are adding to the existing structure rather than moving this portable building)
- We have pronounced our facility as a NO KILL shelter.
- One of my fellow commissioners has gone and visited the facility in Perry. We plan on having ALL commissioners visit our facility as a group in January.
- We plan on working with groups such as the one in Cochran to get plans and procedures in place to get all animals adopted and cared for.
- All animals will be posted on a city maintained animal control Facebook page to help adoptions and lost pets.
- We will find some training for our animal control officer to attend.
- I plan on putting in next year’s budget (July 2018 – June 2019) enough money to renovate/expand our facility and make it TOP NOTCH. We will improve the conditions.
Hawkinsville is a first class community and even our feline and canine citizens deserve first class care.