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Community offers input on animal control; committee tasked with finding solution

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By Bonnie Davis Guy

The Johnson County Animal Control Committee, along with Mayor Larry Potter and Sheriff Mike Reece, conducted an open meeting on Monday evening to discuss possible solutions to the ever-growing animal control problem in Johnson County. The committee, Mayor Potter and Sheriff Reece carefully considered the information and suggestions given to them by the audience members. Budgetary considerations such as coming up with the money needed to fund a county animal control center are the main stumbling blocks that the committee must work on in order to come up with a satisfactory outcome.
Al Gryder, President of Johnson County Humane Society, addressed the committee regarding some of the increasing dangers involved with animals running at large, along with feral animals in the county. Rabies in the wildlife population is on the rise this year. Homeless animals, such as cats, often intermingle with wild animals like raccoons and rabies is often seen in these abandoned animals. The county has already had an incident involving a feral cat attacking a county woman while she was getting her young daughter out of the back of the family car. The attack resulted in Danielle Matherly undergoing a series of rabies shots because the cat was positive for the disease. Had Matherly not called for help and had the cat tested, she would have contracted the deadly disease. Early intervention is the only way to combat rabies in human beings. According to Gryder, survival from rabies is less than two percent if not treated right away.
Related: Animal control is volatile subject at county commission meeting
According to Gryder, in addition to residents of the county being at risk from infected animals, so are untrained county employees who are often called to deal with nuisance animals who could easily be infected with rabies or other communicable diseases. Gryder stated the results of a recent poll in The Tomahawk newspaper reflected that 90 percent of those responding believe Johnson County does not offer adequate animal control.
“I think we owe it to our citizens to get animal control in Johnson County,” he said.
Gryder, as well as others from the Johnson County Humane Society, made a proposal to lease or sell their fully functional animal shelter located in Butler to the county. A list of cost estimates for items such as a truck outfitted with animal control equipment, training for an officer, officer salary and benefits was also submitted. The committee also had a copy of Mountain City’s animal control budget to use as a guideline to consider for cost estimates.  According to Gryder, if sold or leased, the money for the shelter has been earmarked for the ongoing spay and neuter program for Johnson County. The existing facility contains some 20 dog kennels, four cat areas, open floor space, laundry area, and office space. When functioning, the facility met all Tennessee state standards and passed all inspections.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]