HSEC evaluates next step

Published 11:28 pm Friday, October 28, 2011

With the cities of Atmore and Brewton taking over animal control duties for those communities from the Humane Society of Escambia County, the future function of the organization has been thrown into question.

Leaders of the group, which has performed animal control and sheltering services for the county and its municipalities for the last seven years, said the Humane Society will continue to function as an organization and be of help to animals in the county.

But how extensive that work will be depends on how funds from other agencies are handled in response to the decision by Atmore and Brewton officials.

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Brewton officials said last week they will take over the city animal shelter — which had been rented to the humane society — while Atmore and Poarch Creek Indians officials will work out an agreement to do animal control together and use the old Atmore animal shelter.

Escambia County Commission Chairman David Stokes said money from the county’s annual budget allotted for animal control services has already been dispersed for the first quarter.

“We went ahead, as we normally do, and sent out the funding for their services for the first quarter,” Stokes said. “It’s my understanding (the Humane Society has) until Jan. 1 to move out (of the Brewton shelter), and the funding we’ve sent will continue their services for us through Jan. 1.”

Humane Society Director Renee Jones said she is saddened by the cities’ decisions to end their working relationship.

“Of course, I’m distressed to hear their decision about letting us go and taking over their own animal control,” Jones said. “I’m afraid that the same efforts to save lives won’t be in place. I really hate to see a shelter in place with the sole function of picking animals up and putting them down.”

Stokes said he is concerned about how animal control will be done and what it will mean to the county.

“My biggest concern is how animals are going to be treated with individual animal control situations,” Stokes said. “How animals are treated is a direct reflection on a city, community or county. It can either cast a very positive light or give you a big black eye.”
Stokes said, although the county had already committed to the HSEC for their services, no decision on what will happen after Jan. 1 has been made.

“We will be getting with Renee and discussing what we can work out,” Stokes said. “There may be something we can all work out to continue working with HSEC just for the county. She may be interested in trying that, and we’ll just have to see what can be done.”
Stokes said the county has enjoyed a good relationship with HSEC and will continue to work with the organization.

“We’ve enjoyed working with HSEC, Renee and all of her staff,” Stokes said. “Everyone on her staff has been very professional and this entire county has benefited from the services they have given. The care they have provided has been a nice reflection on this county. Together, we’ve been able to accomplish that with Renee and her staff.”

Jones said the HSEC will continue to operate as an organization and strive to continue to save animals’ lives.

“We’re still an organization and will continue to do all that we can for the community,” Jones said. “I understand that the cities have to do what they can do. I just hope that everyone understands that the humane society has a certain set of standards that we are not willing to lower just to provide animal control. What we wanted in the first place was to have access to the animals and the community for long-term goals. We didn’t every want to do the negative parts of the job but were willing to do that in order to change things long-term. I sincerely hope we can work things out and those efforts can continue.”