CALHOUN COUNTY, AL (WBRC) – A heated Calhoun County commission meeting Thursday as the commission makes a transition at a nearby animal shelter.
The Calhoun County Commission voted several weeks ago to end its contract with the Cheaha Regional Humane Society and take over operations at the animal shelter.
Dozens of people came to the commission meeting Thursday to support Cheaha and voice their displeasure at the commission’s decision. There were so many that people were crowded out the doorway into the hall. One of those was longtime CRHS supporter and Anniston council member Millie Harris.
Commissioners have not provided a reason for their decision, but Cheaha supporters say the county administrator appears to be modeling the Calhoun shelter after another metro shelter in Bibb County.
Mark Tyner, who came to Calhoun County from Bibb County, said he favors a metro approach to animal control. Commissioners have also said Cheaha doesn’t provide an animal control officer to pick up strays in the county, something one CRHS employee disputed.
Georgia McRae, an employee of CRHS, asked for a 60-day extension to adopt out the current animal population at the Morrisville Road facility.
“Right now I know of three puppy mills that can’t be dealt with because there’s no space and funding,” McRae said at the meeting, “and the shelter, and everybody with the shelter, is tied up dealing with this crap. You guys, you know, it’s like they said, you don’t want to be in the animal control business.”
McRae was one of a number of supporters who spoke. The commissioners did not respond to them during the meeting, but the commission chairman spoke to WBRC after the meeting ended.
“We’re still going to work with everybody, all the people who want to adopt a dog, rescue a dog, there’s still going to be availability out there,” commission chairman Fred Wilson told WBRC.
Wilson called many of the public comments “personal attacks” on the commissioners.
Commissioners, and Commission attorney Gloria Floyd, denied allegations that anyone claimed the county government would only keep 20 animals and euthanize the rest when the transition happens in March. WBRC has been given varying figures about the current animal population at CRHS, as low as 75 and as high as 175 cats alone.
Supporters and volunteers at CRHS adamantly say they heard one of the commissioners specifically make that remark about the euthanization, when three commissioners, the county administrator, and the county attorney walked through the shelter Wednesday.