BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Dead Dogs Walking Tennessee, an animal rescue located on Bright Hope Road, has official approval for operation following Wednesday's meeting of the Greene County Animal Control Committee.
County Commissioner and committee Chairwoman Jan Kiker explained that receiving the committee's approval is not a formal requirement for the organization to operate, but is a practice that the committee has long preferred.
She also explained that the rescue's owners, Kathy and Bell Newton, have worked for many years in assisting Commissioner Robin Quillen's animal rescue organization, Feral Friends, and have housed dogs at their home during that time.
However, Kiker said the couple is now interested in formally beginning their own rescue group.
County Animal Control Director Justin House stated that he has visited the rescue and examined the facilities and necessary paperwork. The rescue passed his examination, he reported.
"They're good people and help a lot of animals," he said. "It looks good. They're always really good about keeping up with their paperwork and everything.
"I have nothing but good things to say about them," he concluded.
Commissioner Robert Bird questioned if any neighbors in the area have complained of barking dogs, but House reported never having received a complaint.
He explained that the home has no close neighbors.
House went on to explain that he spot-checks each rescue organization annually to make sure everything continues to meet regulations, but that he has never had a problem with the local rescues.
'A POSITIVE IMAGE'
The committee unanimously approved the rescue before hearing from volunteer Janet Medcalf, who reported on her recent work in disseminating information for the county's Animal Control facility.
"We're going to incorporate more of Animal Control to build a more positive light on what [House] does for the community," Medcalf said.
She explained that she has created a Facebook page that includes a photo album for adoptable dogs, one for adoptable cats, and an album for "safe" animals that were claimed or adopted.
"That shows the community that we're not just putting them down every day," she said.
Once an animal is euthanized at the Animal Control center, that animal's picture is immediately removed from the page without any reference to the euthanization, she explained.
In addition, she provided the committee with copies of The Greeneville Neighbor, a free, weekly sister publication of The Greeneville Sun.
Each week, the Neighbor includes pictures that Medcalf takes of the animals at Animal Control that are available to be claimed by their owners or adopted.
She also shares one animal's story in an article to accompany the pictures, Medcalf said.
This is at no cost to the county and is a public service of Sun Co-Publisher Gregg K. Jones, Medcalf said.
Medcalf said that these efforts are largely in hopes that owners will see and claim their animals.
House then provided his quarterly report, which showed a total of 623 animals euthanized in July, August and September.
This is down slightly from the 673 animals euthanized during the same time last year.
Of those euthanized this past quarter, 219 had health problems, 182 were aggressive and 222 were adoptable, he said.
The workers picked up 766 animals during that time, 37 of which were claimed by their owners.
Another 106 were "rescued" by the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society or other local animal rescue groups, with the remainder euthanized.
Animal Control received 1,144 calls during these three months, down slightly from the 1,213 calls received during the same period last year.
Workers conducted 43 animal bite investigations and had 11 animals tested for rabies at the state lab. None was found positive for rabies, House said.
The committee requested more information for their next meeting, tentatively scheduled for 3 p.m. on Jan. 16.
A new member, Commissioner David Crum, who replaced the late Commissioner Brenda Grogan, requested information including a written copy of the Animal Control policies and guidelines, and the fees and charges compared with those in surrounding counties.
Medcalf requested that the committee consider a small fee for owners to relinquish an animal to the facility.
House and other committee members agreed to consider the matter, but noted that such a fee may prompt people to simply drop their animal off on a roadside for workers to then have to retrieve when someone calls to complain about an animal at large.
Commissioner Fred Malone noted that the facility charged such a fee in the past and recommended House bring a comparison of the number of animals relinquished at the facility and picked up by workers both before and after the change in fees.
The committee also noted two upcoming spay/neuter clinics, including the regional Prevent A Litter (PAL) mobile clinic, which is scheduled to be in the parking lot of Big Lots on Oct. 24, according to House and Medcalf.
Cost is $50 to spay or neuter a dog and $40 to spay or neuter a cat, Medcalf said. Other services are also available at the mobile clinic.
Owners of all animals must show proof that their animals have a current rabies vaccination, or pay $10 for a rabies shot for each animal at the clinic, she said.
Call 470-5816 to make an appointment.
Kiker also reported that Quillen is working to schedule another low-cost clinic through Rocky Top Veterinary Clinic during a Saturday in late October or early November.
More information will be made available as details are finalized for this clinic, Kiker said.