CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories

AUTHOR: MOULDE

HED: Dogs, cats may face move or the hereafter

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

Neighbor complaints may force the Tupelo-Lee Animal Shelter to move. Or kill more animals.

Burgeoning populations of dogs and cats at the city-owned shelter on South Gloster Street recently caused Humane Society officials to build outdoor dog runs behind the facility. The Humane Society operates the shelter.

But at least one neighbor contends the outdoor pens constitute a nuisance. Bill Windham, owner of Windham Mobile Homes next door to the shelter, has threatened to sue if the dog runs aren't removed.

Windham said the pens often house 40 to 50 dogs and the barking and smell adversely affect his business.

"The salesmen are having a difficult time talking with customers and showing the homes with 40 to 50 dogs barking at once," Windham's attorney, Lynne Christopher, said in a letter to Ward 6 Councilman Perry Thomas. Christopher said some customers also have left the lot because of the smell.

Christopher said Windham had instructed her to file suit to seek injunctive relief if "a satisfactory solution is not reached within 10 days. ..."

The council is scheduled to consider the complaint at its Oct. 21 meeting. Windham said Wednesday he would meet with Christopher by next week to decide his next step.

Humane Society spokesman Ken Anthony told council members this week the organization had no room inside the shelter to house the dogs.

Either the shelter would have to be moved, or the society would have to destroy more dogs to eliminate the outside runs, he said.

Anthony suggested the city might sell the current facility and invest the proceeds in a bigger shelter at a more isolated location. The alternative would be to destroy the animals, something the shelter wants to avoid.

Council President James Williams indicated he would support a new shelter.

"I think it is ... in the wrong place," Williams said.

Windham said he "possibly" would be interested in buying the current site if the city decides to sell. The city purchased the facility - an old animal clinic - for $103,000 in 1993. Appraisals would be needed to determine its current value.

Society officials said they would be willing to move if an adequate site could be found and a better facility built.

"We're not wanting to hurt anybody's business or anything like that," said society board member Susan Morris.

Meanwhile, the Humane Society has scheduled an open house Oct. 18 to try to reduce the numbers of animals at the shelter, Morris said.

"We want to let people know there's really a crush down there and to try to get some of them placed," she said.

The open house will run from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Balloons for children and soft drinks will be given away and there may be door prizes, Morris said. The society will also offer $1 tickets on a drawing for a $1,500 sofa, she said.

Dogs can be adopted for $35, including neutering or spaying, rabies shots, and worming. The fee for cats is $25.

"But more than anything, the open house is not for fund raising, it's for placement of the animals," she said. "There are some beautiful animals down there, dogs and cats."

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