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Animal shelter to close at end of year

The Henderson County Humane Society has faced financial troubles to the point officials did not know if the shelter could survive. Today, after overcoming its financial crises, the shelter will close on Dec.

31. But it’s not closing because of financial problems.

It’s because the women who run the shelter have done it for almost 30 years, and the stress of the work become too much. In an April 2017 letter to Henderson County commissioners, members of the Humane Society Board of Directors wrote: “After long and careful consideration, it has been determined by the Henderson County Humane Society governing body that, as of Dec.

31, 2017, we will no longer be sheltering and euthanizing animals for the city of Athens and Henderson County. After 29 years of service to the citizens of this city and county, we are weary of the burden we currently carry. We did not begin the operation of our shelter to simply adopt out homeless animals.

Adoption was a bonus. Our goal was to give shelter to damaged and unwanted cats and dogs.” In April, Norma Lambert told the Athens Daily Review that her frustration is not with the county or the city but with pet owners.

In 2016, the Henderson County Humane Society took in over 3,800 animals, and in 2016 euthanized more than 1,875. The Athens shelters take in about 80 percent of the county’s animals, while the Cedar Creek Shelter takes in about 20 percent of the Henderson County Animals. “The mast of these animals is the product of irresponsible owners.

The animals sent to us from this environment are, for the most part, unadoptable, and their numbers are growing daily. The solution to the problem is simple: Drastically reduce the number of dogs and cats being born in this county. There is currently no cooperative solution being actively pursued and, therefore, the situation will remain the crisis it currently has become.”

The property where the Henderson County Humane Society is located is owned by the city of Athens. “The Henderson County Humane Society will remain in place and on task managing the shelter until the noted date. The transition period will assure the uninterrupted service currently provided by our facility for both Athens … and Henderson County.”

Henderson County has contracts with smaller cities here, including Gun Barrel City, Chandler and Malakoff. “We will no longer operate a shelter but the Humane Society will move over to the Litter Box,” Lambert said. “Our plan is to use the money raised at the Litter Box and other fundraisers to provide free or low-cost spay and neutering of county animals. The best way we know how is to put our resources towards spay and neutering.”

The Litter Box is a resale shop. Henderson County and Athens officials will operate an animal shelter for the county. During a September commissioners meeting, County Judge Richard Sanders asked them to approve a £200,000 budget line item for this fiscal year to fund an animal shelter.

He said the budget also includes the usual £62,000 it gives annually to the Humane Society for keeping animals, which the county can use to help pay for running the shelter.

Commissioner Wade McKinney said Sanders had been working closely with the city and the shelter’s board of directors for the past six months to draft a plan for the shelter.

A director for the shelter has not been named.

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