City changes course on animal shelter

Published 8:41 pm Saturday, February 6, 2016

The city’s decision to take back the money it pledged to a local group to help them bring the animal shelter up to humane standards seems a bit odd.

Brookhaven officials last year agreed to give Friends of the Brookhaven City Shelter $20,000. The group’s plan was to upgrade the shelter as much as possible, and set up an office with staff onsite to help with adoptions. The current shelter facility at the landfill leaves much to be desired.

Friends of the Brookhaven City Shelter had also approached the county about contributing to the effort.

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But the city recently decided to rescind its agreement with the group and take back any of the unused funds. The city is now planning to build a new facility.

City officials haven’t yet said where this new facility will be or how much it will cost to construct, but they are modeling it after a facility in Meridian.

The city struggled with the agreement it had made with the Friends group, which prompted the change in direction.

“My biggest concern is that they understand that there are rules in that landfill, like you don’t smoke and pitch a match, because if you set the landfill on fire we’re all in trouble,” city attorney Joe Fernald said. “It will burn. It can catch fire. It’s not just a barren wilderness out there where people go out there to put their dogs. I think it’s a good thing they’re helping us — I’m all for it, but we need to set it up to where we know who’s responsible.”

Those are legitimate concerns, but we assumed the city had addressed those before agreeing to give the group the funds. The move to change course may be the most prudent at this point, but it appears to be the result of poor planning. In the end, the animals may benefit, however. A new facility will be far superior to any renovations made at the existing shelter.

How the city will fund the project remains to be seen. Until the details are sorted out and construction wraps up, the current facility will continue to operate as-is. That means animals taken there will continue to be housed in what many have called inhumane conditions.