The Dickson City Council approved a resolution to amend its agreement with the Humane Society of Dickson County to increase the city’s annual allocation to $60,000.
At its meeting Monday, Sept. 19, the council approved Resolution #2022-19 to amend the Memorandum of Understanding with the Humane Society to increase the allocation from $35,000 to $60,000 effective with the current fiscal budget that begin July 1.
Under the 2019 MOU, the Humane Society agreed to provide office space for the city’s Animal Control officer and to house all animals seized by the officer. The city initially allocated $25,500 under the agreement and increased it to $35,000 effective July 1, 2021.
Humane Society of Dickson County Board of Directors President Carrie Peery presented the council with data showing that in 2021, 23.39 percent of the cats and dogs taken in at June’s Pet Haven and Bark Park, the society’s shelter on Tennsco Drive, were brought in by the city of Dickson’s Animal Control officer and 39.54 percent were brought in by Dickson County’s animal control officer while the remainder of the 1,338 intakes were owner surrenders, strays turned in by citizens or endangered-animal seizures by the society. The shelter had 2021 operating expenses of $609,785.65 with $35,000 from the city and $45,000 from the county.
“This is a lot more affordable for us to contribute to that operation than to try to operate a shelter,” City Administrator Rydell Wesson said of the agreement with HSDC. “Our recommendation is that we up our funding to the Humane Society to $60,000 and change our MOU.”
Peery said the shelter is currently housing 116 dogs and over 100 cats. The statistics show that from January 2021 through May 2022, the shelter had 498 animals brought in by the city’s Animal Control and 812 by the county with a total intake of 1,996 cats and dogs for that period.
“The animal control partnership with the city, especially, has really worked well for us and, I think, well for the city,” Peery said. “We get a lot of cats from the city, because it’s the city and there’s a lot of feral cats in the downtown area. Dogs are easier to return (to their owners) from our standpoint because more people seem to have their pets chipped or collars or those kinds of things. Cats is just a problem that’s not ever going to end because they’re not spayed or neutered and it’s a never-ending process when it comes to cats and it’s a city problem everywhere.”
Peery said the number of animals the society has received since opening its facility has exceeded all expectations and caused overcrowding problems at the shelter.
“It’s a substantially bigger problem than I think most people realize,” Peery said. “It’s large numbers of animals and we’re doing everything we can but the numbers are more than we all anticipated. We’re scrambling to do everything that we can right now to take care of the animals that are there.
“We are way over capacity. We’ve got 40 or 50 more dogs than we have places. We have some kennels with three, four dogs in them. We’ve got cages with five, six, seven, 10 cats in them.”
Peery said the society is looking at several options, including a modular building just to house sick cats, building more kennels and more space for cats.
Wesson also pointed out that under the agreement with the city, when the shelter is full and cannot accept animals from the public, it still accepts animals brought in by the animal control officers.
“That’s the job that we agreed to do, and that’s what we have to try to make work,” Peery said. “It’s tough. We could build a building triple that size and it would be filled up in a year. It’s just a non-ending problem. The way to solve the problem is with some spay/neuter legislation. But that’s a subject for another day.”
The resolution to amend the MOU passed unanimously and must now be approved by the HSDC board of directors. Once finalized, the city will issue the additional $25,000 to the humane society to go with the $35,000 already paid for the current fiscal year.