BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Animal Control Committee approved on Wednesday a proposal by Director Justin House to increase fees associated with the relinquishment, pickup, claiming and housing of animals.
The facility, on Hal Henard Road, housed 2,666 animals during 2012, with 247 of those relinquished to Animal Control by the owner and the remaining ones picked up by House and his staff.
According to the 2012 year-end report House presented to the committee, 1,684 of those animals were euthanized, 161 were claimed by their owners, and 574 were adopted or "rescued" by the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society or other rescue groups.
While the majority of the animals euthanized (607) were adoptable, another 557 had health problems, and 520 were aggressive, according to the report.
Animal Control also received 4,427 calls regarding animals and conducted 166 animal bite investigations, according to the report.
Of the bite investigations, 34 animals were tested for rabies, with three skunks testing positive.
INCREASED FEES PROPOSED
Although the number of animals is down from 2011, when nearly 3,000 animals came through the facility, House proposed to the committee increasing fees to rates comparable to those used in surrounding counties in order to aid in covering expenses.
The committee approved an increase to the fee charged an owner for Animal Control to pick up animals because of the owner's arrest or because the animal is vicious or a hazard to the public.
This fee will now be increased from $50 to $100 for livestock pickup during office hours, and $150 after hours.
If Animal Control is picking up small animals after hours, the owner will now incur a $50 fee, a $5 increase from the current schedule.
Pickup of an animal which the owner wishes to relinquish will remain at $45. There is no fee to relinquish an animal at the facility, with no pickup required.
The charge to claim an animal at the facility was also increased from $15 to $30.
NEW FEES APPROVED
Moreover, the committee gave approval for House to now charge owners an additional $10 per night boarding fee for any animal picked up or claimed.
This fee prompted some brief discussion among members, but House told the committee he believes it to be the best measure.
"I think if they really care about [their animal], they aren't going to care. They're going to pay whatever it takes to get it," he said.
Commissioner Fred Malone, in particular, agreed with this change, saying that the change may prompt an increase in the number of euthanized animals, but would also prevent House from having to pick up the same uncared-for animals again and again.
Finally, House also added a new fee to euthanize an animal at the owner's request.
While Animal Control does not aim to be in the "euthanasia business," House said he does occasionally have an owner bring in an animal that is sick or injured which needs to be euthanized.
Often, he said, these owners cannot afford the charge at a veterinarian's office.
The committee gave its approval for this new fee to be $20 for a dog and $10 for a cat.
Humane Society Animal Shelter Director Amy Bowman, Humane Society volunteer Janet Medcalf and many members of the committee concluded the meeting with high praise for House's efforts and professional attitude, pointing also to the increased number of adoptions.
In 2011, there were 486 animals rescued or adopted from Animal Control, but that number increased to 574 in 2012.
The committee will meet for the next quarterly report at 3 p.m. on April 17.