After deciding to pull $23,000 in funding from the Unicoi County Animal Shelter last month, the town of Erwin has decided to reinstate some of that money; but as we found out, that may just be a temporary fix for a shelter concerned about their financial future.
To dozens of cats and dogs, the Unicoi County Animal Shelter is home. They are fed, cared for, and loved.
Now this home appears to more stable, at least for the next six months. "We're encouraged that everybody was able to come together," said Jessica Blevins, director of the UCAS.
After pulling nearly $23,000 in annual funding because of financial and auditing concerns, the town of Erwin is partnering with the shelter once again, bringing with it more than $11,000 through the end of the year.
But Erwin's mayor Doris Hensley told News 5 this is only temporary while the town negotiates with the county and Town of Unicoi to come up with a new animal control agreement, one they hope will serve the town's taxpayers wallet just as well as animal welfare. "What we are proposing is going to be on a smaller scale than what their shelter is, but it will be a shelter. The dogs will be taken care of," said Mayor Hensley.
Mayor Hensley said with this temporary funding they're not using their own animal shelter for the moment, but she said they have all the facilities in place for possible future use.
That is concerning to residents like Paige Buskey, who worries the town's shelter will be more like a short-term pound. "If my dog should escape or one of my dogs should escape, I'm concerned that he will be caught, taken to the shelter, or to the pound, and euthanized," Buskey said.
While there's a glimmer of hope over at the shelter, there's still question after question as to what happens comes January 1, and the Erwin's financial support may or may not be there. "This is a large amount of money for us to have to come up with so long term, we're still not sure what this means for us," said Blevins.
Hensley insists that either way, the doors won't close. "The shelter's going to operate," said Hensley. "It's just that the town of Erwin might go out and provide their own animal control."
We found out the town of Erwin is close to an inter-local agreement with Unicoi County and the Town of Unicoi.
Mayor Hensley said the next step is to have attorneys read over the proposals before any permanent decisions are made.