LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala - A secluded building on County Road 150, across from the old International Paper mill, sits a building that will soon serve as Lawrence County's own animal shelter.
The commission voted 4-0 to move forward with the purchase.
Commissioner Joey Hargrove negotiated with the property owners in Pittsburgh to buy the United Steel Workers Union building for $25,000. He consulted with Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton) who, along with other area legislators, agreed to front the cost with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in-lieu-of-tax money.
The property needs to be retrofitted, and the county will cover that cost.
"We have to have a euthanization room, a medical room, a washroom. over in the parking lot, we will build a kennel," Hargrove said.
They also plan to have part of the building be used as a satellite office for the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office.
Hargrove said it was a critical need after years of contracting animal control services, most notably with Bobbie Taylor, who was accused of abusing the animals, prompting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to remove hundreds of animals from her home.
"For the last ten years or longer, we've had problems with our animal control," said Hargrove. "The best thing to do is to bring it back in-house."
He says it gives county residents peace of mind that the animals will be taken care of. He adds that Kim Carpenter, the county's new animal control officer, will operate the shelter and they will likely hire part-time workers to assist her. He says the permanent shelter will also give residents a place to drop off animals.
When it's time, Hargrove says they will turn to the community for donations to get the shelter up and running.
Hargrove says the county's agreement with an area rescue ends at the end of September.
They hope to have their shelter up and running by November.
The ASPCA also issued the following statement to WHNT News 19 regarding the move:
In response to recent news of the Lawrence County Commission’s decision to purchase a facility with plans to establish its own shelter, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is pleased to see the county taking responsibility and the necessary steps to establish an animal shelter to help homeless and at-risk animals in the community. The commissioners’ vote is an indication that they recognize the importance of establishing a county-operated animal shelter that will fulfill the needs of pets and people in the community it serves. The ASPCA looks forward to hearing the progress of the county as they move forward with the development of its animal shelter.