Animal shelter conditions raise concerns

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C. Todd Sherman | Daily Journal The Tupelo-Lee County Humane Society does not meet city codes, according to board president Moe Bristow.

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The Tupelo-Lee County Humane Society does not meet city codes, according to board president Moe Bristow.

By Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The president of Tupelo-Lee Humane Society’s board of directors said Tuesday she doesn’t believe the city of Tupelo-owned building where the animal shelter operates meets city codes and has requested code inspectors evaluate the facility.

This comes just days after the organization’s executive director for six years departed from her position after a “mutual decision” between her and the board.

Moe Bristow, president of TLHS’ board of directors, stressed that executive director Debbie Hood leaving had nothing to do with problems at the South Gloster Street shelter.

“We just decided to take it in a new direction,” Bristow said. “Debbie worked hard in the last six years.”

Bristow said the Tupelo nonprofit will conduct a national search to find a new executive director. In the meantime, Summer Knight stepped down from the board to assume role of interim executive director.

While maintaining daily operations at the animal shelter, the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society has a goal of opening a larger, improved facility on donated property along Cliff Gookin Boulevard. So far, the organization has raised about $620,000 toward a new facility, which has been estimated to cost up to $4 million.

Bristow said Tuesday that existing conditions at the current shelter create a challenge to focus on daily operations and fundraising for a new location. The building’s roof leaks, its air conditioning unit leaks into the walls, the drainage system is in bad shape and there are plumbing and electrical concerns, she said.

Bristow said she’d requested a city of Tupelo code inspector evaluate to property and determine the extent of work needed at the city-owned building. Don Lewis, Tupelo chief operations officer, said he wasn’t aware of the request but would look into it.

Late Tuesday, Bristow said in a news release the shelter looks forward to working with the city “to make our shelter safer for both employees and the animals.”

TLHS receives $175,000 annually through a contract with the city of Tupelo to provide animal control services.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com