Animal Shelter

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 17, 2010

Fresh face urges Batesville: rekindle effort for shelter

By Billy Davis

The state director of the Humane Society of the United States urged Batesville’s mayor Wednesday to construct an animal shelter to house the county’s unwanted pet population.

“It says a lot about who we are by how we treat our animals,” Lydia Sattler told Jerry Autrey at an informal meeting at City Hall.

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Sattler, who is from Kiln, Miss., had been invited by the Panola County Humane Society (PCHS) to urge the mayor to build a shelter.

When the twenty-minute meeting was winding down, Autrey promised to take action, acknowledging that the long-discussed shelter has been pushed aside.

“I’d like to get something going again,” he told Sattler and four PCHS volunteers who attended.

PCHS volunteers Kim Strickland, Candy Hopper, Chuck Lehman and Natalie Robbins represented the local organization.  

Construction of an animal shelter in Batesville is an ongoing topic — and a source of frustration — for the volunteer-led Panola County Humane Society.

PCHS leaders lobbied former Batesville Mayor Bobby Baker to build a shelter then Autrey promised to build one when he was campaigning for mayor in 2005.  

The City of Batesville was working closely with Panola County government, as recently as 2009, when the partnership fell apart after cash-strapped county government seemed to back out.   

The City of Batesville had budgeted $400,000 for the project, but that money was eventually moved into the general fund.

Autrey, now on his second term, joked Wednesday that “I’d like to get it done before I’m booted out.”

Stray dogs are currently kept in an open-air kennel located east of Batesville.

After the meeting, Sattler told The Panolian she was unaware of the back-and-forth discussions and the lengthy timeline of the project.

“The point I wanted to get across is that an animal shelter has become a necessity, not just a want, in the state,” she said.

PCHS leader Candy Hopper said Sattler was invited so Autrey could hear from a new voice, after local Humane Society members have repeatedly lobbied for a shelter.

“We wanted the mayor to hear from someone else how important a shelter is needed in our community,” she said.

Sattler told Autrey and the volunteers that a shelter can be built for as little as $100,000, and cited a Web site with shelter plans.

The PCHS leaders they were familiar with the Web site,

“It’s being done in other areas of our state,” Sattler told The Panolian. “It takes good cooperation to get it done.”