Questions remain over Tupelo-Lee Humane Society funding

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – City officials grilled Tupelo-Lee Humane Society’s director and board members on expenses and operating practices during a one-hour meeting Tuesday at City Hall.
The session aimed to clarify how the nonprofit agency uses the city’s annual $175,000 allocation to enforce municipal pet ordinances and house animals. City Council President Fred Pitts had suggested lowering that allocation since Tupelo recently employed its own animal control officer – its first since at least 1990.
City leaders failed to reach any decision, however, saying they needed additional information and more time to discuss the issues of animal control.
Among their concerns were whether the nonprofit agency should enforce municipal ordinances, whether it should charge pet owners more to reclaim captured dogs and cats, and whether it should seek more money from other governments.
“I just want everybody to pay their fair share,” said Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings.
They also revived the question of a citywide pet registration. Such a program would require all Tupelo residents to register their cats and dogs for a fee, which the humane society would get. It also would provide the agency a complete list of pets from which to track down owners in case a missing or captured animal turns up at the shelter.
The Tupelo-Lee Humane Society is the county’s sole shelter and takes in animals from throughout Northeast Mississippi. It receives an average of nearly 8,000 cats and dogs annually, about one-third of them originating from neighboring communities – mostly Pontotoc, Itawamba and Union counties.
It also responds to about 2,100 animal-related calls annually in the city of Tupelo, for which it receives a bulk of its municipal funding.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com