Publicly funded spay and neuter program proposed for Sullivan County

J. H. Osborne • Aug 16, 2018 at 9:30 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Should Sullivan County taxpayers spend $10,000 in “seed money” to initiate a spay and neuter program?

The Sullivan County Commission could vote on a proposal to do just that on August 20. A resolution sponsored by Commissioner Mark Vance asks the commission to authorize establishment of “the Sullivan County Spay & Neuter Fund to spay and neuter animals across Sullivan County.”

Why? According to the resolution:

• Sullivan County “has a considerable number of uncontrolled and homeless animals which lead to a high reproduction rate among the dogs and cats across Sullivan County.”

• “For the public good Sullivan County wishes to commit to take the lead in solving the animal overpopulation problem in Sullivan County ...”

If it approves the resolution, the commission will appropriate $10,000 for the fund, and Vance said the program will lead to donations from the public to make it grow.

Vance said one local veterinarian has been identified for use by the program, and a goal would be to make the list grow and eventually, perhaps, have a veterinarian who could come and provide the procedures “in-house” at the Sullivan County Animal Shelter.

Details of the program are still under review, Vance said, but oversight would eventually be handled by a subcommittee of a not-yet-created shelter board. Vance said the program could be based on need, providing spay and neuter services for pet owners with low incomes as defined by federal poverty guidelines.

Other commissioners voiced multiple concerns and asked numerous questions, including: If someone can’t afford to spay or neuter their own pet, can they really afford to be a pet owner? Will the program be available to current pet owners or only to those who adopt a new pet from the county animal shelter? And how can the county justify adding a new expenditure while denying requests for new funding from other community organizations?

Commissioner Joe Herron said the Sullivan County Humane Society already provides spaying and neutering.

Commissioner Angie Stanley said she is all for a spay and neuter program, but said if it is a requirement for new adoptions from the shelter it needs to be enforced.

“If we don’t have some kind of program in place, we are contributing to our own problem,” Stanley said.

Vance said he looks at the proposal as a pilot program to see if it changes the number of animals coming into the shelter and hopefully lowers the number of dogs and especially cats being euthanized.