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Animal Control fee fails

A measure that would have instituted a $10 surrender fee at Warren County Animal Control and Adoption Center has failed. 

Warren County commissioners rejected Resolution No. 6-2020 during Tuesday night’s monthly session. Among other changes, the measure would have created a $10 charge for people dropping off animals at Animal Control and levied a $500 fine for anyone who decides that dumping pets is a better option.

The vote split the board 12-10.

Voting against the changes were Commissioners Michael Bell, Carlene Brown, Steve Glenn, Richard Grissom, Ron Lee, Gary Martin, Daniel Owens, Gary Prater, Christy Ross, Scott Rubley, Tommy Savage and Cole Taylor. 

Voting in favor of the changes were Commissioners Carl E. Bouldin, David Dunlap, Rangy England, Steven Helton, Robert Hennessee, Lori Judkins, Tyrone Sparkman, Joseph Stotts, Phillip Stout and Blaine Wilcher. 

Commissioner Deborah Evans passed on the vote. Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin was absent.

How the resolution was worded drew disapproval. Specifically, “That Warren County, TN, hereby implements a mandatory fee in the amount of $500 to be collected per animal when an animal is dumped for the purpose of being discovered by the Warren County Animal Control Center.”

Savage says he would prefer the fine be levied against anyone found guilty, regardless of their purpose in committing the act. 

“I would like to see this for any person that dumps an animal whether they are discovered by Animal Control or anybody else,” he said. “If it’s proven, I would like to see a fine levied on that person.” 

Helton voiced concern for the surrender fee encouraging people to discard animals on the side of the road.

“My concern is that this $10 collection fee may encourage more of that because, truth be known, to catch someone dropping an animal is hard,” said Helton. “If you are on a back road where I live in the middle of the night, all you have to do is open up the door and out it goes. There’s no one there to see that particular dropped animal.”

The $500 fine can only be charged to individuals who plead guilty or a court finds guilty of the crime and the fine is part of their sentence/ punishment.

“As far as the $500, I’m not sure that’s enough,” said Helton. “What I mean by that, is you can throw a Coke bottle out your window and get that kind of fine. Here we are dumping a live animal, an animal that’s living and breathing that needs food and water. What we’re saying it is no more than a bottle of pop that you throw out the window. I looked at littering fines and some go up to $2,000. I’m wondering if that fine is a little weak.”

The resolution was presented to the County Commission by members of the county Health and Welfare Committee. 

“Basically, we’re putting value to these animals’ lives,” said Wilcher, chair of that committee. “As we saw last week, to some people, unfortunately, they are garbage. And, $10 is pretty cheap for an animal. I think it’s too low, but we have to start somewhere in educating these people that do this that animals have value.”

Wilcher urged approval for the measure, “Is it a perfect resolution? I don’t think there ever is a perfect resolution, but I think it starts to put value on these animals’ lives. I hope it will pass.” 

His plea drew support from nine fellow commissioners. However, 13 is required for any measure to pass.