Resident questions Itawamba County’s lack of kennel

By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times

Itawamba County’s lack of animal control regulations has one resident concerned.

During Monday’s meeting of the Itawamba County Board of Supervisors, county resident Betty Sue Russ expressed her concerns about animal dumping near her home on Scenic Hills Drive.

“I’ve only been living in Mississippi a short time, but in the three years I’ve lived here, I’ve accumulated a dog a year,” Russ said. “I understand this is a problem all over the county: People are dumping animals they’ve decided they don’t want anymore.”

Because Itawamba County has no animal shelter, Russ said she has to either take abandoned animals to the Lee County shelter or care for them herself. She said neither option was ideal.

“I’d like to see if we can’t do something in the county to help some of us who are having issues with people dumping these poor animals off on the side of the road to fend for themselves,” Russ said.

“It’s a shame,” she added. “I may just be one little voice, but I’m willing to do whatever needs to be done to get something out in the county so that we can find a way to care for our own animals instead of having to take them to Lee County.”

Although the city of Fulton has a paid dog catcher and a small kennel area at the city dump, Itawamba County has neither. According to board president Danny Holley, although there have been multiple requests for the county to either add some sort of kennel or adopt animal control policies, the costs of enforcing and maintaining such services have kept the board at bay.

“You’re not the first one who’s requested that,” board president Danny Holley told her. “But, I think I can speak for the board and say there’s always an issue with who’s going to pay for it. That would be the taxpayers. We’re stretched to the limit on our budget right now and that’s just never something we’ve fully addressed. But, it is a problem.”

This is the second time this year a resident has appeared before the board requesting animal control regulations.

Holley offered a short list of potential expenses, including the construction of a facility, items to care for the animals, an employee to pick up animals and a vehicle in which said employee could travel. Although Holley said the problem with abandoned animals is a prominent one shared by many counties, the cost of solving that problem is simply too high.

“We all have this problem,” Holley said. “Could the county help? If we were willing to hire dog catchers and building facilities, then yes. But we’re struggling to keep facilities open now that are used to house human beings.”

County administrator Gary Franks, who oversees the county’s budget, added that most humane societies are non-profit and rely on the financial aid of generous donors.

Seemingly unperturbed, Russ asked if the board wouldn’t consider providing space for some kind of pay-per-use kennel — something at which an animal could be dropped off for a small fee and manned by a group of volunteers.

“I just can’t believe that there aren’t enough people who feel the same way I do and wouldn’t be willing to step up a little bit,” she said. “I’d be more than willing to do the leg work needed to protect these animals. Whatever it takes.”

Russ also suggested she might use some of her own private land to house a small, volunteer kennel, if there was enough interest. The board suggested she check with the city of Fulton and acquire a copy of their regulations as a guideline.

Russ asked that anyone interested in helping establish a volunteer animal shelter contact her at 862-6923.

Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141, by e-mailing adam.armour@journalinc.com or by visiting his blog at itawamba360.com.