Monroe County Animal Shelter, Animal Control facing possible closure due to county budget cuts

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MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Monroe County Animal Shelter and Animal Control are in danger of closing operations due to proposed budget cuts in the county.

According to Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram, most departments are facing budget cuts for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, but which department and how much funding to cut was decided by the county commissioners.

Jim Barrett, president of Monroe County Friends of Animals, a nonprofit that partners with the county animal shelter, said he was shocked to hear the news about the budget proposal.

He said his group was working to help build a new building for the animal shelter for a few years, and never heard the commission was even looking for more money to fund the shelter.

Barrett said that losing the shelter would do a lot more harm to the county, than good.

“When they first opened up the shelter, there was stray animals all over the streets of this county. Everywhere. When I moved down here to Tennessee, there was a stray dog at the entrance of our development every other day, and so on. You no longer see that,” Barrett said.

He said the shelter and his nonprofit were both created in 2004 to help save animals and decrease the number of strays on the streets.

MCFA funds one-third of the shelter’s budget, according to Barrett.

He said the majority of that money goes toward food, vet bills, upgrades and more.

Barrett said that because of the work the shelter and his group have done over the years, they intake fewer strays.

“We have a sister organization that hands out vouchers for spay and neuter operations to people with limited means. They’re folding into our organization, so the number of animals that are coming into this shelter here has gone from 5,000 to 2,000 a year,” Barrett said.

Animal Control has also seen the benefit of the spay and neutering program.

Thomas McCosh, the director of Monroe County Animal Control, said he used to get little sleep because he was constantly getting phone calls throughout the night about strays.

Now, he only gets about eight to 10 calls a day.

The shelter and MCFA also partner with rescue and adoption organizations to help keep the intake down.

Barrett said the shelter no longer has to euthanize animals because it’s no longer overcrowded.

He said the county commissioners want MCFA to take over the shelter operations, but as a nonprofit, that wouldn’t be possible for at least a few years and more donations.

Barrett and the shelter director have asked county residents to call their county commissioners and ask to keep the budget for the shelter and animal control as is.

“Our organization of course is really interested in saving the animals, and all that, but there’s another aspect of this that’s a quality of life issue for the community, and we’d like them to reconsider this section,” Barrett said.

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