If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Animals, such as these two puppies, being dumped has been a longtime issue that has plagued Coosa County. It is hoped that finally having an animal shelter in the county will help alleviate this issue, with fewer animals being dumped out and left to whatever fate befalls them. Photo submitted
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
After action taken during Tuesday morning’s County Commission meeting, the first step is being taken toward the county finally having an animal shelter.
Following a presentation by Dennis Hill and Leslie Hardy, the commission unanimously approved allowing them to go forward with a feasibility study regarding the animal shelter. Hill said it will be a two-phase feasibility to see if they can secure a location and also to do a cost analysis.
He added that they hope to present the study to the County Commission within 30 days. They then hope that the commission will go forward with initiating a pledge drive to seek volunteers and supporters.
While the location is not yet being made known to the public until the feasibility study is complete, Hill reported that they have found a space that should meet their needs. He added that the piece of property is “very promising.”
Although it is state mandated that every county in Alabama has an animal shelter, Hill and Hardy reported that Coosa is one of 15 counties out of Alabama’s 67 that does not have a shelter despite the mandate.
Hardy mentioned that in addition to animals being dumped throughout Coosa County and left to fend for themselves, some also take Coosa County’s stray animals to neighboring shelters, which burdens their loads. Currently Sylacauga Animal Shelter is the only neighboring shelter that will take animals from Coosa County, which Hill said is just done out of the kindness of their hearts.
He reported that Connie Willette with the Sylacauga shelter said that on average they take one animal per day from Coosa County. However, currently the shelter is not taking any more animals from anywhere because it is at capacity, reflecting what a problem this has become.
Hardy added that during the summer she had contacted 15-16 animal shelters and rescue groups from surrounding counties and that all of them were at capacity. She described it as a “huge problem” since none of the neighboring shelters could take animals from Coosa County.
Hardy said that she has contacted Rep. Ben Robbins regarding the issue and any assistance or information he may be able to provide.
Now that the commission has unanimously approved going forward with the feasibility study, Hill and Hardy said they will be trying to get the word out in communities and churches about this effort. The shelter effort is being headed by Hill and Hardy along with District 5 County Commissioner Lamar Daugherty.
“We as commissioners are enthused about the possibility of complying with the state mandate and providing for, as well as taking responsibility for, our animals,” Daugherty said.
Hill said they are also working with the Coosa County Extension Office to see about any grants that may be able to help as the project moves forward. They will also be talking to town councils, mayors, Neighborhood Watch groups, schools, Coosa County 4-H, churches, businesses, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), and others to spread the word and seek support.
He and Hardy said that they will need support and volunteers, whether it’s time, money, or other means of support, including in-kind donations such as supplies and labor. They want to have a county supported and county based shelter, but not county tax funded.
This means that they are not asking the commission for any monetary support, as they do not want to use county money for the shelter.
They also plan for it to be a no-kill shelter, and Hill said they hope to have the shelter ready to go by the summer.
Hill said that many are already on board and supporting the project, including the Best Friends Animal Society of Alabama, District 4 County Commissioner Ronnie Joiner and Sheriff Michael Howell. He said that they all are supportive of the shelter initiative and have pledged their support.
Once the feasibility study is completed and that report is made, Hill and Hardy will be working toward a pledge drive to get an idea of the support behind the county. That will include people willing to donate – whether money, materials, time, or in-kind services – and those willing to volunteer or otherwise offer support for the shelter.
Tuesday’s approval from the commission helped give Hill and Hardy the momentum they needed to get the ball rolling, and they are looking forward to what the future holds.
Hill said they are excited to have the support of the commission. He added that they need volunteers to be “on the ready” in 30 days, following their next presentation to the County Commission.
Stay tuned to “The Coosa County News” for updates on the animal shelter effort, and see next week’s edition for full coverage of the County Commission meeting.