Sullivan County continues effort to rehabilitate animal shelter

J. H. Osborne • Updated Mar 16, 2018 at 12:10 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — If you want to find some quick statistics for comings and goings for dogs and cats at the Sullivan County Animal Shelter, let your keystrokes do the walking.

Sullivan County, which took back sole control of the shelter on January 1 after a years-long partnership with Kingsport-based non-profit “PETWorks,” has reached the point in its start-from-scratch overhaul of the shelter’s record-keeping system to begin posting monthly reports of the number of animals coming to and leaving the shelter. Figures for the first two months as a county-operated facility — January and February — were posted on the shelter’s website last week.

The website has for several weeks featured a regularly-updated listing and gallery of dogs and cats available for adoption.

The website had to be developed from the ground up and is a part of the county’s replacement of technology, as it were, when they resumed sole control of the facility on January 1. That included installation of new a new telephone system, new credit card processing equipment, all new computers and new software, Accounts and Budgets Director Larry Bailey said.

“We’re making incremental progress toward getting the animal shelter to where we want it to be, for both the animals and the public,” Bailey said Thursday. “We’ve accomplished a lot, but we do have a long way to go. It has been slow going, in part because of the weather. But we didn’t just start from zero on January 1. We started less than zero due to the years of neglect the facility endured from a maintenance standpoint. They (PETWorks, formerly known as SBK Animal Control) didn’t spend any money up here for years, at least not on the facility. I’m sad that it had Sullivan County’s name on it the way it was being operated.”

Bailey said county employees, from multiple departments, are working on some aspect of improving and maintaining the shelter every day — while also carrying out the duties of their regular jobs. The shelter soon will be getting a new roof, Bailey said, at an estimated cost of $5,000 (labor by county workers), areas of the property are scheduled to be cleared of brush and overgrowth, and parking needs to be expanded and improved. Planning continues, Bailey said, for placement of a modular unit at the animal shelter property to serve as a visitor’s center of sorts. It’s where people will enter the building and be able to visit with perspective new pets. The county wants to place that unit,which it already owns, near what is now the front of the shelter. Bailey said the logistics of getting utilities to the unit are what’s being worked on right now.

PETWorks recently unveiled a similar concept at its shelter on Idle Hour Road in Kingsport. According to a recently released audit of PETWorks finances, the non-profit spent about $6,000 for the portable building brought in to house that visitation room.

The Sullivan County Animal Shelter’s numbers for February show on any given day the number of dogs housed at the shelter hovers near 60, while the number of cats was higher. Until the end of the month. The number dropped significantly after 28 cats were euthanized, bringing the total number euthanized during the month to 37. Dogs fared better: six were euthanized during the month. More cats than dogs entered the shelter (83 to 70, respectively). More cats were adopted than dogs (52 to 40, respectively), but more dogs were returned to owners than cats (11 to two, respectively). Twelve dogs were transferred out to rescue organizations, while only seven cats got out that way, and dogs and cats tied, 11 each, for being accepted into foster homes.