All cats euthanized at Sullivan County Animal Shelter

J. H. Osborne • Nov 9, 2018 at 7:45 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County officials blame an outbreak of a feline disease last weekend with the decision to euthanize all the cats — about 50 — housed at the Sullivan County Animal Shelter.

They and volunteers who spoke during public comment at the Sullivan County Commission’s monthly work session Thursday night said that left the shelter’s cat room empty, for now. The shelter will not be accepting any cats for another week or so as the cat room gets another cleaning and enough time passes to make sure the area is clear of any contagions.

Several volunteers who have worked at the shelter spoke during public comment. One was almost too choked up to speak. They described the situation as horrible and preventable. One described a mature cat named “Kitty” who had only been at the shelter about a week, having been surrendered after her owner died. Kitty didn’t have to be euthanized, the volunteer said.

Some noted the county has made progress in its efforts to turn the shelter around since resuming sole control of the facility on Jan. 1 — after ending a years-long partnership with the Kingsport-based organization now known as PETWorks. But they said more needs to be done. Specifically, they asked for the hiring of a manager or director for the facility and that it be someone with experience in dealing with animal diseases. They also asked for written protocols on how to respond to outbreak situations.

Commissioner Pat Shull announced he will defer action on his resolution that seeks to reconsider a partnership with PETWorks.

Shull’s resolution is co-sponsored by Gary Stidham and Todd Broughton, both among the 15 new commissioners who took office just last month.

The resolution asks the commission to approve “the formation of a County Negotiation Team to meet with PETWorks representatives (and the City of Kingsport as required) for exploring the terms and conditions pursuant to consolidation of County-wide animal control/services within the PetWorks framework. Negotiation Team shall consist of: 1) County Mayor, and 2) Three (3) County Commissioners chosen by the Board of County Commissioners. This team shall begin their work within two weeks of passage of this resolution, and report progress to the Commission at each monthly Commission work session.”

The resolution was on the commission’s October agenda as “first reading,” which means no vote was expected. This month it will be listed under “old business,” meaning it could come for a vote. But Shull said he will defer action instead when the commission meets next week.

Shull said he was surprised the proposal had raised controversy.

The Sullivan County Commission is scheduled to meet on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 6 p.m. in what will be its first monthly business meeting since the commission voted to switch from daytime meetings to evening meetings.