JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – It seems almost as if the Campbell County Commission is playing a game of chicken with the Friends of Campbell County Animals (FCCA) organization over the future of the county animal shelter. If that is the case, the commission is likely to lose the game, if predictions by shelter Director Patricia Siwinski are accurate.

“I don’t see us being able to continue operations beyond June 30 if government doesn’t come up with a significant increase in financial support,” Siwinski stated last Friday. “The county doesn’t even provide enough funding to meet the payroll and related taxes, and that’s only a fraction of the total cost of operating the shelter.”

Financial statistics for the 2020-21 tax year show that the shelter expenses were over $50,000 in excess of income, even with $70,325 in grants and $102,160 in donations on top of the county’s $149,568 contribution.

“Grants must be used for specific programs or equipment, and can’t be used for general operations,” Silwinski added, pointing to the $10,000 for spay & neutering programs and equipment as an example. Of the $102,160 in donations, over half ($56,325) came from another non-profit for vetting and transport of animals sent out to rescue groups for eventual adoption.

Commissioners have suggested more support should come from the county’s four municipalities, but the only donation from that source was $500 from the City of LaFollette, specifically to cover the spay & neuter treatment of cats in the 37766 zip code area. Ironically, 45 percent of the animals brought into the shelter originate from within LaFollette corporate limits, which covers much less territory than the zip code.

The name on the animal shelter signage has been changed from the Adrion W. Baird Animal Shelter to the Campbell County Animal Shelter. The facility was originally named in honor of late Campbell County native and Commissioner Adrion W. Baird who played an instrumental role in the development of the facility and the service.

“Some commissioners have suggested we could have roadblocks and drives to increase donations. Of the total donation we received, less than 10 percent came from small donors. The only county government agency to use fundraising roadblocks is the Sheriff’s Department, and that’s for special drives such as ‘Toys for Tots’ or the back-to-school ‘Shop with a Cop’ program,” Siwinski added. “There’s no way we could make up the more than quarter-million dollar shortfall with small donors or roadblocks.”

CCFA has announced their intention to not renew their contract to operate the shelter beyond June 30 if more money is not appropriated from the county. If that is the case, Campbell County will likely be forced to close the shelter down if another group such as Young-Williams in Knox County does not agree to take over operations. At the county’s current level of financial support, Silwinski does not see another group stepping up to take over.

Some commissioners and Mayor E.L. Morton have suggested asking the county’s municipal governments to pay a share, but no city or town has shown any interest in helping. A special commission meeting was called several weeks ago and the county’s four city mayors and board members were invited to attend. Not one member of city government from LaFollette, Jacksboro, Caryville or Jellico showed up.

How far would the county’s $149,000 go if Campbell County was forced to take over shelter and animal control operations itself? Full operation would require at least two full-time and three part-time kennel attendants, who are currently being paid $8/hour, less than the average fast food drive-through employee. Currently the Director is working without pay, and then there is the salary of the animal control officer. The 2020-21 budget showed more than $8,000 in gas for the animal control vehicle and $5,806 in Maintenance on the vehicle. “The vehicle is aging and falling apart,” Siwinski observed.

Most likely, if FCCA calls it quits on June 30, the shelter will have to stop accepting animals period, and empty out the kennel population as quickly as possible, probably through transfers to other non-profits or euthanasia. The 2021 calendar year showed that the in-house population at the shelter varied from a low of 195 to a high of 446 animals.

Intakes during the year totaled 3,174, divided fairly evenly between dogs/puppies and cats/kittens. The shelter was able to stay even with the numbers of animals brought in by sending out 2,345 to other groups for rescue, finding 345 local adoptions, 94 pets reclaimed by owners and 247 that had to be euthanized.

With no programs in place to expedite rescues, the shelter could become overwhelmed quickly if animals continue to be accepted, so animal control might also be at risk unless the county goes back to the old days when strays were kept a maximum of three days and if not reclaimed or adopted, humanely “put to sleep.” (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 05/09/2022-6AM)

3 Replies to “Commission, animal group in game of chicken; likely no winners”

  1. Sad 😞, but ATV trails, new campgrounds, and boating maintenance are all thriving. Our current commissioners and other area elected officials have their priorities, and it’s not innocent, unwanted animals. Yes, very sad.

  2. In 2021 the county revenue was 97 million dollars, with 91 million in expenditures, there is NO NEED to raise taxes to fund the shelter! As for the idea that Young Williams would operate the shelter for $150,000 and supply ACO, good luck with that idea. And another reason the shelter was closed in 2014 for animal cruelty, it was UNDERFUNDED then, and there was no money to buy the euthanasia medication with! No money in the budget for food for the animals either! Because of underfunding the animals were not humanely euthanized, as required by LAW, but given less than half the recommended dosage of the medication, which did NOT humanely euthanize them!

  3. Why are the counties municipalities not paying anything ?? This is so wrong !

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