City curbs Humane Society

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The City of Brewton is set to take over animal control services after rejecting requests for funding from the Humane Society of Escambia County.

Councilman Dennis Dunaway, who chaired a committee to research the issues, said Tuesday the decision was one the city had to make financially.

“We had been asked by the Humane Society to pay back lease payments from May to August at about $10,000,” Dunaway said. “They were also asking the city to maintain Dumpster service, maintenance costs, water, heating and air. Additionally, they wanted the city to pay $60,000 annually for their services. We have to deny all of those requests.”

City Clerk John Angel said the city had invested just more than $10,000 in repairs to the facility currently used to house the Humane Society’s shelter. The group did not reimburse those costs to the city.

“I have asked the clerk to notify the Humane Society about the decision,” Dunaway said. “We will provide a 60-day written notice that we will be terminating the lease between the city and the Humane Society effective Nov. 1. We will begin our own animal control Jan. 1.”

Dunaway said if the society vacates before Jan. 1, the city would begin animal control immediately at that time.

Joe Thomas, president of the HSEC, said the decision wasn’t completely unexpected.

“We had discussed this type of scenario and knew that it might come to this at some point,” Thomas said. “It’s regrettable that it’s worked out this way.”

Although the news may be a setback for the HSEC, Thomas said the group will continue toward its goal of education and pet protection.

“The Humane Society, as an entity, can continue to exist without providing animal control,” Thomas said. “We will continue to provide support and be aggressive in our spay and neuter programs and in adoptions. I feel like there will continue to be an active humane society in the county, and we will continue to educate the public and save pets lives.”

Dunaway said the facility owned by the city will continue to shelter animals from around the area on a per-pet basis.

“We will enter into contracts with the City of East Brewton and Escambia County to house animals on a per-animal fee basis,” Dunaway said. “We want to maintain a relationship with the Humane Society and allow them to take animals from the shelter for local adoptions.”

The humane society closed its shelter facility in May due to budget issues. A large portion of the group’s funding came from the Neal Trust, which expired last year. Also last year, the Town of Flomaton decided to terminate its contract with the organization.

New budgets for Brewton, Atmore, Flomaton and East Brewton did not include any provisions for funding to HSEC for animal control services for 2012.

Dunaway said other details of the agreement will have to be worked out in the coming weeks.