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New group rehabbing pound: Friends of Brookhaven City Shelter plans to make facility more humane

A new organization calling itself Friends of the Brookhaven City Shelter has a plan to re-imagine animal control in the community, but they need help.

“We are going to be operating on a shoestring,” organizer Lu Becker said. “The city has been wonderful in supporting this project. They have literally put it in the hands of these Friends of the Brookhaven City Shelter, so yes. We have enough for room to begin, that’s all. Just enough to begin.”

The shelter will need a lot of work to improve living conditions for dogs left in Brookhaven’s streets, starting with a new attitude.

Photo by Aaron Paden A dog looks out from a kennel at the shelter Wednesday. A new organization, Friends of the Brookhaven City Shelter, will soon begin work on improving the facility.

Photo by Aaron Paden
A dog looks out from a kennel at the shelter Wednesday. A new organization, Friends of the Brookhaven City Shelter, will soon begin work on improving the facility.

“We’re going to call it the shelter, not the pound,” Becker said. “It’s the Brookhaven City Shelter, and we’re Friends of the Brookhaven City Shelter.”

Currently, the facility is open to the elements. The group plans on putting up a wall to shelter the animals from winter winds, planting trees for shade, and replacing all of the kennels. There has been no office and no procedure for adopting abandoned animals. Becker hopes to change that.

“It will be a complete overhaul. It’s going to be a transformation.”

Preparing the dogs for adoption requires expensive vaccinations that protect the animals and the people around them from dangerous diseases like rabies. To do all this and maintain the staff required to handle adoptions, Becker said they are going to need to bring in a portable building to serve as an office, but cost is an issue.

“We found one in town that’s really bigger than we need,” said Becker, “It’s a great portable building by the fire station on 51, but they want $12,000. We’ve only got $20,000 to work with, so we just can’t buy that.”

Becker said it’s also important to actually enforce the leash laws in Brookhaven. Animal Control Officer Roxanne Norton currently has very little authority to do so.

“They just laugh at me,” Norton said. “I tell them to put them up, and they’ll put them up. Then I’ll drive away, and they’ll let them right back out again.”

“She is good, she’s just had her hands tied. … We want the city to give her the authority to start ticketing people for animal abuse, and we have a leash law that’s not being obeyed,” Becker said. “She [Norton] doesn’t have the authority, but we’ve asked the city to give her the authority – or the police department actually – to give her whatever training she needs, or whatever authority she needs, to ticket.”

Becker is in high hopes that they can improve the shelter for dogs, but cautions that there are currently no accommodations for other kinds of animals.

“We don’t have the money, right now, to put any kind of facilities in place for horses or any other animals other than dogs. Not even cats. We don’t have the money to take in cats.”

The shelter currently is home to one horse, but Becker said that was only out of desperation, and that they thankfully had someone in line to adopt him before winter.

Becker said Friends of the Brookhaven City Shelter is currently looking for volunteers and donations. Two volunteers from the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League have offered their services to teach Friends how to run the facilities.

“[Volunteers will] do computer work, [and] socialize with the animals,” Becker said. “We’ll be teaching these animals to sit, and not jump up on you. They’ll be well-mannered when they’re ready to be adopted out. We’ll have people handling them.”

Anyone who would like to get involved in any way with the shelter or donate should call Lu Becker at (601) 754-2000.

The city allocated $20,000 to improve conditions at the shelter. Becker, with BARL, said the funds would not be enough to bring it up to BARL standards, but rather humane standards. The city shelter and BARL will continue to be separate entities as city shelters are legally required to provide euthanasia.