Animal shelter back on the table for county

Published 8:04 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

In the latest attempt to solve the stray dog problem in Panola County, the Sheriff’s Office is proposing a partnership with the Town of Sardis. Sheriff Shane Phelps brought up the issue again this week at the Board of Supervisors meeting Monday in Sardis.

“This is something we have been trying to get done for a while now,” Phelps said. “We had it close with the City of Batesville but once the (memorandum of understanding) started going around the board back out. I’ve talked with Mayor McCarty and I think it’s time to partner with Sardis and move forward on this.”

Sardis Mayor Richard McCarty told supervisors the Town of Sardis is willing to donate land in the J.C. Sexton Industrial Park to build a facility, but an agreement would be needed from the county and other municipalities to fund its construction and upkeep.

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“It’s something we have to do for this county,” McCarty said. “We were lucky the other day. We had five pit bulls turned loose in town and two shepherds. We were lucky that Hernando took them for us but it took us a week to catch them and in that week they killed numerous cats.”

Phelps said he has raised $8,000 in donations for a new kennel, and believes more can be raised if citizens knew a facility would be opened to serve the whole county.

Board president Cole Flint asked the question that has hampered all previous efforts to build and maintain a county-wide shelter for stray dogs and cats, specifically, “Who is going to pay for the upkeep?”

“Well that’s where we are going to need to come together and see what we can do,” McCarty said. “We have these other small communities in the county and if we get together I think we can figure out the money.”

Supervisor Chad Weaver agreed a shelter is needed, but reminded other board members the towns of Crenshaw, Como, Pope, Courtland, and Crowder have not contributed much of their budgets for county-wide projects in the past.

“So far we have $8,000 in the pot and we’re probably looking at $400,000 to open the door,” Weaver said. “If you get the facility put up and you’re dependent on volunteers to run it and then the volunteers don’t show, what are the animals going to do?”

“It’s something we are going to have to look at in the future, but we are going to have to fund it,” Weaver said.

In neighboring Tate County, a partnership between the City of Senatobia and the Board of Supervisors resulted in the recent construction of a shelter, and the employment of a director and an assistant.

Both Senatobia and Tate County contribute  $85,000 per year to that facility and its upkeep.

McCarty agreed to organize a meeting later this month to explore financing options, and look for budget opportunities that would allow for the proposed shelter.