Sullivan animal shelter open for business once again

J. H. Osborne • Jan 17, 2018 at 7:00 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Animal Shelter officially reopened to the public Friday after being closed for cleanup efforts after the county resumed sole control of the facility on Jan. 1.

“Based on the fact the shelter was full of animals and it is the dead of winter, we were able to get as much accomplished as we could under the circumstance,” Sullivan County Accounts and Budgets Director Larry Bailey said Wednesday afternoon. “But we’ve got a long way to go. People shouldn’t expect too much if they visit the shelter now, but (we) have made progress and are moving forward. We hope the public to bear with us as we continue making it better. We’re not full speed, but we are open.”

Bailey said the shelter has taken in new animals and adopted out others since reopening.

One of the biggest tasks accomplished while the shelter was closed: removing “unneeded junk” from its interior and exterior, Bailey said.

Also, the whole facility has been cleaned and, more importantly, efforts to rid the building of mice and rats continue, Bailey said.

The front areas of the shelter have been painted, a new telephone system and computers have been installed, and a couple of new employees have been hired. Volunteers play a key role in keeping the shelter operating, Bailey said, and the county is working to establish an improved system to coordinate them.

The Sullivan County Commission voted several weeks ago to end the county’s seven-year partnership with Kingsport and Bluff City, which had allowed a nonprofit group to provide animal control to all three entities. Bristol, Tennessee, had participated by paying a set amount for each animal it brought to the shelter. The partnership originally was known as SBK, but last year began the process of rebranding itself as PETworks, with a stated goal of building a new facility on East Stone Drive to replace the shelter in Blountville and the one on Idle Hour Road in Kingsport.

Under that partnership, the county provided $360,000 per budget year to SBK/PETworks. Because the county’s budget year runs from July 1 of one year through June 30 of the next year, ending the partnership on December 31 left half that yearly amount, or $180,000, in the county’s budget for this year. That money can be used to help the county operate the facility on its own until July 1, when the new budget cycle begins.

The Sullivan County Animal Shelter is located at 380 Massengill Road in Blountville. For more information, call (423) 279-2741.