Camden County officially owns the former Montreal MoDOT building with the intent to use part of it as an animal facility. Montreal residents and other Camden County tax payers voiced their concerns and questions to county officials in a meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Some residents in attendance expressed concern about taxpayer money being used for facility that was not voted on by the public. Others asked what kind of environmental impact the facility would have on the surrounding land.
"We never voted to purchase and run a facility," one concerned resident said. But according to Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken, the issue was voted on in 2007 when a sales tax was passed giving part of the profit to hiring new law enforcement officers. The law enforcement officials hired were two full-time animal control officers. Franken claims that in order to hire animal control personnel, there must be a building to house the animals.
For many Camden County residents, it comes down to how the commission is using tax payer money. "I don't think they should proceed until they put it on the ballot," Jim Rogers, a Camden County resident who attended the meeting, said.
The facility will house a maximum of 32 dogs and 18 cats. The animals will be kept inside except for the time that they need to be outside in a contained area for exercise according to Department of Agriculture requirements. Residents wondered if the area would smell or if the sound level would be affected by adding the animals. "There will be no environmental impact to the surrounding properties," Franken said. "They won't know the animals are here."
According to Sheriff Dwight Franklin, animal control calls are one of most called cases into the sheriff's office. Domestic violence tops the list with assaults trailing behind. Animal calls come in as number three and is why he feels buying the building was an easy choice for the county. Currently, officers do not have a facility to house the animals that they pick up. They must drive them to shelters in Osage Beach, Sunrise Beach or Lebanon and pay a fee to house them there.
The funds used to transport and house those animals in other shelters will be used to fund the day to day operations of the new facility.
Animals will be held for 10 to 14 days before they are euthanized in hopes that owners will claim them. Animals will not be able to be adopted directly from the new facility, but will be moved to a surrounding shelter if they are "adoptable" according to Franken and Franklin. "We don't want to kill people's pets," Franklin said. The exact ways that the county will advertise what animals they have is currently unknown. Putting animals' pictures on the internet is an option.
The facility will not house an incinerator. Franken told the public that the county is working with an individual that will take the animals to a private incinerator and will cost the county approximately eight dollars per animal.
When asked what the timeline was for this project, Franken was unable to give a clear answer. The county is currently still making decisions on the maintenance and renovations needed to be done to the facility. Franken is said the facility could be up and running by the "Spring at the earliest."