County animal shelter closes drop box

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

The Carter County Animal Control Advisory Board gathered Monday to discuss a recent decision to temporarily close the drop box at the animal shelter and consider solutions that might allow it to remain open.
   The board contemplated hiring a temporary employee from a temp agency; however, according to County Mayor, Dale Fair, doing so would involve amending the budget to provide a salary for a temporary employee, and funds are limited.
   Currently, the shelter is short-staffed due to one employee who has taken sick leave after being injured, leaving only Freddy Turner to keep the shelter open to the public in the afternoon and to perform the duties of animal control officer for the city of Elizabethton.
   Because Turner must be available to leave the office to respond to calls concerning abandoned or dangerous animals, such as rabid dogs, he can't keep the office open to the public except from 1 to 4 p.m. during weekdays.
   Requesting additional funds to pay for a temporary employee would create problems since the injured employee is still receiving payment. As of now, a few volunteers are sacrificing their time to help keep the office open to the public and to perform daily duties around the shelter.
   The board is asking for more people interested in volunteering at the shelter to contact the them at 547-6539. According to Haskel Laws, animal control officer for Carter County, "The volunteers we have right now are burnt out." Laws warned the board about what would happen if the drop box remained closed. "If they can't put it (the animal) in the box, they just sit it out," said Laws.
   Other than the idea of finding more volunteers to keep the office open so the public could drop animals off, County Mayor Dale Fair said, "I have no solution about how to keep the drop box open."
   Laws said, "Freddy (Turner) needs some help desperately."