By Paula Walter

Mandy Neylon is the animal control officer for Mountain City. Her job is to run and operate the Mountain City Animal Shelter, which includes feeding and providing care for the cats and dogs that find their way to the facility, along with maintaining the shelter building. The shelter often houses rescue animals that had been found abandoned and abused.
Originally from Ohio, Neylon moved to Johnson County in March of 2015. It wasn’t long before she was working for Mountain City at the animal shelter. Her background included working in a veterinarian hospital.
Neylon is the only animal control officer in the city. The majority of her calls involve animal abuse and dogs at large. Not only does she work for the city, but Neylon also responds to calls from Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece if an emergency situation arises. These include dog bites, vicious dogs, along with abused and/or neglected animals. “We need animal control in the county,” Neylon stated, who is on call 24/7. “It’s a lot of work,” she said. “But I do love it.”
According to Neylon, she sees a lot of abuse in her job. If abuse is discovered, the animal or animals are removed from the owners, who are then charged with neglect. The animals are then housed at the Mountain City Animal Shelter during the legal proceedings. “Every animal that was abused is now in a good home. Some dogs that were abused turn into the best pets,” she stated. “There is always help,” she stated. “If people see something, call.”
According to Neylon, animal abuse is higher in the county. “ In Mountain City, people generally take care of their pets,” she stated. According to Neylon, she often receives phone calls from neighbors reporting possible abuse. “A dog’s basic needs are food, water, shelter and a rabies vaccine,” she added. According to Neylon, there were two positive cases of rabies in raccoons in 2017.
The animals at the shelter are adopted or transferred to no-kill shelters in states up north, including New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania, among others. Neylon is constantly looking for homes for dogs and cats. “I’ve always been an animal lover, she added.” Her first job working with animals was with the Humane Society in Ohio.
Neylon’s day is busy as she not only feeds and cleans the animal shelter, but she also transports the animals to the vets for spay and neutering. She works closely with Melissa Gentry, who runs Rescue DOG and Sanctuary, finding homes for those dogs and cats that have come under her care.
According to Neylon, the euthanasia rate at the Mountain City Animal Shelter in 2012 was 70 percent. In 2013, it was 65 percent. It increased in 2014 to 79 percent, and in 2015, it was 68 percent. In 2016, it drastically dropped to 24 percent, followed by 1.9 percent in 2017.
If a stray dog is found, it will be held for three days at the Mountain City Animal Shelter. Information about the dog is put on Facebook, on Neylon’s own Facebook site, along with the shelter’s site. After three days, the lost cat or dog is available for adoption. Those interested in adopting must fill out an application. Vet checks are made to make sure the animal is being cared for. “We want to make sure they are going to really good home,” Neylon stated. If they are not adopted, Neylon works with other animal rescues to place them. “If it’s puppies or a small dog, Melissa Gentry will take them,” she stated.
Although the animal shelter cannot take cash donations, they rely on donations such as food, toys and blankets. Neylon works with Fisher Hollow Veterinary Clinic in Damascus. Donations are accepted at Fisher Hollow that will go toward medical bills for those animals at the Mountain City Shelter.
In 2016, there were 91 dogs picked up in the city limits, while 55 were picked up in the county. There were 127 cats in the city limits and 79 within the county limits. Sixty-nine dogs were transferred to foster home, and 100 cats were sent to foster home. There were 42 dogs in the city and the county who were adopted, and 96 adopted cats both in Mountain City and Johnson County. Thirty-three dogs and three cats were returned to their owners.
“My wish is that every dog would have a home,” Neylon said. “We have to be their voice.”