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Animal advisory board hears from animal advocates

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By Beth Braden

Animal advocates could be another step closer to a volunteer program at the Adrion Baird Animal Center.

A representative from the advocate group, Friends of Campbell County Animals, addressed the county’s animal advisory committee during its meeting at the shelter last Friday.

“We realize that it’s not an overnight thing, we would just to at least get started, working together and working with Betty [Crumley]. She’s a very knowledgeable resource of information,” said Michelle Davis, representative from Friends of Campbell County Animals.

During October’s county commission meeting, Davis addressed the commission regarding the organization’s goals for helping the shelter. She presented them with a list of nine suggestions to help improve the shelter. Friday’s meeting was the next step in implementing an adoption plan.

“We’re just an advisory board. We have absolutely no control or power or anything, but we make suggestions and advice,” said veterinarian Mark Garrett, chairman of the advisory board.

Currently, the shelter doesn’t have the time or the budget to fund an adoption program. This is one area where Friends of Campbell County Animals would like to assist.

Garrett advised Davis the group should plan on assigning one person to be in charge of coordinating the volunteers. Terry Basista, member of the East Tennessee Humane Society, agreed.

“An adoption coordinator and volunteer coordinator are essential to this thing being successful,” he said.

Currently, shelter rules say that after three days, an animal can be euthanized if its owner has not claimed it or it has not been adopted. However, if it’s an adoptable animal, Crumley says she can keep them longer than three days. At the same time, keeping animals can quickly become an issue of an overcrowded shelter.

“When all of those [animals] come in tomorrow, they’re gonna be in the bathroom, they’re gonna be in Betty’s office, they’re gonna be in that little closet over there. That is a mathematical truth,” Garrett said.

The problem is combated at the Oak Ridge animal shelter by clearing one third of the cages at the end of every day through euthanasia, adoption or fostering.

One of the responsibilities of the Friends group would be to find reputable foster families.

“Historically, we’ve had some fostering people that had, shall we say, habitats that were inconsistent with good health, disease free environments,” Garrett said ”If we want to foster, we want to perpetuate health.”

“So the coordinators are gonna have to work with fosters, find reputable fosters, and we also need funds for vaccinations,” Davis said.

The Friends group also has a Facebook presence. Crumley was assured that postings are not negative towards she shelter.

“I do want to say something, on our friends of Campbell county Facebook page, there’s nothing negative about you, the shelter, or anyone,” said Terri Woodward, Campbell County Humane Society member. We have 10 administrators. That Facebook page is monitored 24/7. We’ve also posted no negative comments. We just all want to work together.”

Crumley believes that the advocates have good ideas, but she’s unsure of how the plans could be implemented.

“We’re not Young Williams, we’re not Knoxville, and our budget doesn’t allow for all those nice fancy ideas,” she said.

Advocates were encouraged to speak with the county commissioners from their districts. The animal advisory board will not meet again for several months.