City aldermen explore animal control options

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Abandoned, lost or stray dogs could find an improved shelterafter a guest, familiar with dealing with four-legged animals,spoke to Brookhaven officials about several ideas to improve thecity’s shelter at their meeting Tuesday.

Brookhaven Animal Rescue League President Lu Becker appeared beforecity aldermen to offer her assistance and advice on restructuringthe city’s animal shelter, which is currently only equipped tohouse dogs, and asked officials to enforce Brookhaven’s leash lawand the possibility of having citizens register their pets.

“Stray animals are a constant concern of a lot of people and weneed to try and enforce some of the laws we have better,” saidMayor Les Bumgarner.

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The city’s animal shelter is currently not operating after formerAnimal Control Officer Joe Poole was released recently. Even withan animal control officer, city officials agreed that patrollingfor pests, responding to calls and up keeping the shelter could bea little much for one person.

“He had to do it all,” Bumgarner said.

A well-prepared Becker presented aldermen with a list of ideas onhow to get the shelter running on all four legs again. The listincluded such items as a bottle of bleach, and she pointed out themost expensive item on the list was a $150 dipping vat.

“We’re talking about hundreds of dollars, not thousands, to get itgoing again,” said Becker.

Becker mentioned the possibility of using court-appointed workersor community volunteers to help run the shelter and adopting someof the stray dogs. She acknowledged the city shelter cannot havethe same no-kill philosophy as the Brookhaven Animal RescueLeague.

“I don’t want you to think I’m trying to create another BARL,”Becker said to city officials.

City officials repeated that animals and stray dogs are always ofconcern. Brookhaven Police Department Chief Pap Henderson said thebusiest time for animal control comes when people get home fromwork and let their dogs out.

“After 5, that’s when the complaints start coming in,” saidHenderson.

Becker also suggested that the shelter could generate an additionalsource of income by gaining funds from those in violation of thecity’s leash law. She also thought it would be a good idea for petowners to register their pets, which would help keep people moreresponsible for their furry friends.

Requiring pets to be registered did not go well with all thealdermen.

“As many cats and dogs as some people have, that’d be a nightmare,”said Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell. “I just don’t think it’ssomething we should require of our citizens.”

The search for a new animal control officer is still underway.

“I want to select the right one and I would love to have (Becker’s)help on selecting the right one, and that’s the reason why Ihaven’t brought one in here so far,” said Henderson.

However, all the city officials seemed willing to work toward amore functional shelter.

“I think your and BARL’s willingness to work with the chief and putthe right person in place is the key to success in all this,” saidWard Six Alderman David Phillips told Becker.