Board votes to transfer shelter property to city, county
by David Lazenby
Apr 26, 2011 | 3243 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walker County Humane Society’s board of directors on Monday voted unanimously to surrender its share of the property on Birmingham Avenue in Jasper where an animal shelter is operated by the non-profit organization in conjunction with Walker County and the City of Jasper.

Prior to the quitclaim deed approved during Monday’s called meeting of the WCHS officials, the WCHS, county and City of Jasper each had an equal share in the facility. As a result of Monday’s decision, the county and city now own an equal share in the facility that typically houses 50-75 animals at a time.

Earlier this month, WCHS officials announced they expected the facility would close its doors on June 30 as the humane society seeks to distance itself from the business of running an animal pound to focus the humane society’s attention on community educational goals.

Richard Fikes, a member of the WCHS board of directors, said on April 15 he hoped the county would take over the facility.

Alabama law states that each county “shall provide a suitable county pound and impounding officer.” The law also states “Every municipality with a population over 5,000 in which the county pound is not located shall maintain a suitable pound or contribute their pro rata share to the staffing and upkeep of the county pound.”

On Monday, Jasper and Walker County officials met for a work session to discuss their plans for maintaining an animal pound after June 30. After that meeting, the representatives proposed that the WCHS transfer its one-third interest in the pound through a quitclaim deed so the city and county each owned half of the facility.

“I got the impression today that it is going to be a joint effort,” Fikes said. “I get the impression if we shut down on June 30 that the county and city are going to pick it up from there.”

County Commissioner Dan Wright, who attended Monday’s meeting of the WCHS board of directors as well as the work session, said, “I would like it to be a smooth transition.”

Fikes said during the upcoming months the WCHS board of directors will meet more frequently than usual because the transition will result in an increased number of decisions required by the board.

Wright added the county may be able to decrease the cost of running the facility.

“There are a lot of things we won’t have to pay, that y’all did (have to pay),” Wright said during the WCHS board meeting.

Some board members expressed relief that the shelter may be able to continue to accept animals after May 31. Previously, the WCHS officials planned for the pound to stop taking animals at the end of May to give the facility a better chance of locating a new shelter for all of its existing animals.

Wright said he hopes the shelter can continue to work “hand-and-hand” with the WCHS after the county and City of Jasper take over.

“Any dog or cat we take in that y’all think, ‘hey, this is an adoptable through us,’ I want to make it to where there is no cost to you,” Wright said.

Previously, the Walker County Commission and the City of Jasper contributed $40,000 each year to the WCHS for upkeep of the shelter. Money for the WCHS is also secured through fundraisers and donations.

However, this is not enough. According to Carol Downs, a founder of the WCHS, running the shelter costs about $120,000 per year.