Greene County animal shelter to temporarily close - WNCN: News, Weather

Greene County animal shelter to temporarily close

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Greene County's animal shelter will close in one week because there's no one left to run it.

"It makes me really angry," says Jimmy Toler, a shelter volunteer.

County commissioners say it will be a temporary shutdown while they search for new animal control officers. The decision comes just days after Gayle Joyner, the shelter's only remaining full-time employee, announced she's leaving.

The county's only other animal control officer is out on disability, and with a wage of $21,000 a year, Joyner says she's forced to go find a better-paying job elsewhere.

Joyner declined an interview, but let Toler speak on her behalf.

"When you have to borrow money to pay your bills, then it's not worth it," he says of her decision to leave.

That means there's no one left to care for the shelter animals or to respond to animal complaints until someone else is hired. Toler worries as time passes during that search, the shelter will fall to the bottom of the priority list.

"I feel like in that time frame, it will be the holidays and they won't reopen," he says. "And then they'll have the thought of, ‘We've been doing it this way for so long, we don't need the animal shelter.'"

In the meantime, Toler and Joyner are scrambling to find the animals new homes so they don't have to put them down.

They've contacted nearby shelters to see if they have free space and are holding several adoption events. This first event will be Saturday, Sept. 14, from 10-2 p.m. The others will be Tuesday, Sept. 17, and Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 1-4 p.m.

So how has it come to this?

Interim County Manager Richard Hicks says last year's budget overestimated revenues and underestimated expenses in every area, which means they simply can't afford to give Joyner the money she wants.

"By Greene County being a rural, agricultural area in a limited tax base, we're limited as to what we can pay," he says. "I think everybody knows we can't compete with some of our surrounding counties and we just have to do the best we can do."

"We've had a lot of county employees leave to take other jobs and I think that's a problem that Greene County's always had and will continue to have," he adds.

Still, Hicks says he's confident the shelter will reopen.

As for the county's financial future, "We have made significant improvement," Hicks says. "Things are looking better. We still have a long ways to go."

Hicks says the new budget includes cuts to every department, county-wide employee furloughs and a 3-cent tax increase.

--- Original Story ---

The future of the Greene County animal shelter is uncertain after the recent resignation of its manager.

Greene County commissioners tell 9 On Your Side they now have three options: to hire a new animal control officer, give the Sheriff's Office authority to operate the shelter, or close it down for good.

They plan to discuss all those options on Monday night at their commissioners meeting. It will be at 7 p.m. in the community building on Harper Street.

Stay with 9 On Your Side for updates.

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