Stray cats have been excluded from the Mt. Juliet animal shelter thanks to a new policy, and in response, a crowd protested outside of the Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners meeting.
The Mt. Juliet Police Department oversees the shelter, and the change went into effect last week. The shelter could no longer accept stray cats, or cats surrendered by owners.
“I know it’s not popular among some,” said Chief James Hambrick. “I am looking at this as an administrator, and how we can serve the entire public, and not one sector of the public.”
Chief Hambrick said injured cats will still be accepted at the shelter. He said the hope was to reduce the work load on the employees at Animal Control, and allow them to focus on stray dogs, which could cause more danger to the public.
“It will give those officers a chance to do something they haven’t been able to do,” said Chief Hambrick. “They will be able to patrol and handle other calls for services other than when it’s just an emergency.”
Chief Hambrick said there is one full-time, as well as two part-time employees at Animal Control. In 2015, the shelter accepted 156 dogs and 72 cats.
A group of Animal Control supporters held signs and chanted “save the cats,” outside Mt. Juliet City Hall Monday. They argued the change would increase the number of stray cats in the city, and put an additional strain on local animal rescue groups.
HAPPENING NOW: people are protesting after learning Mt Juliet Animal Control is no longer accepting cats. pic.twitter.com/yQzLseAn29
— Emily Luxen (@NC5_EmilyLuxen) March 14, 2016
“The kitties need to be helped and saved, and not abandoned,” said Debbie Linck, who protested outside City Hall.
Opponents also attended the Board of Commissioners meeting to ask city leaders to reconsider the idea.
“With all the money being generated and people moving here, shouldn’t Animal Control services be expanded rather than reduced?” asked Allison Dunne.
Chief Hambrick said the city is working to help find homes for the cats currently at the shelter.
Also, an additional employee will be added to Animal Control next week, and this will allow the shelter to be open three days a week, rather than just by appointment. It will be open to the public on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for adoptions.