MOUNT CARMEL — Jail overcrowding has long been a problem in Hawkins County, but Mount Carmel is hoping to find a new home for some of its prisoners out in the community.
There are currently 22 dogs, including eight puppies, being housed at the Mount Carmel Animal Control Department kennel. The kennel only has a capacity for 14 dogs.
But Mount Carmel Police Department Chief Jeff Jackson said Monday he doesn’t want to euthanize any of his current kennel tenants. Jackson said they’re all good natured and healthy dogs, and his goal is to find a home for each of them.
“We really don’t have a no-kill policy, but we do everything within our power to make sure we don’t have to,” Jackson said. “It’s just heartbreaking to put down a perfectly healthy animal. We’ve probably got a euthanasia rate of less than 30 percent.
“At times our euthanasia rate has gotten high and we then took steps that resulted in animals being adopted out more frequently. We just need to keep that up. It’s less expensive to adopt them out than to put them to sleep, so it’s a win-win situation if you can adopt them out.”
Although the Hawkins County Humane Society serves most of Hawkins County, in 1993 Mount Carmel opted to build its own dog pound to save money on having to transport animals to Rogersville. It started with a single dog pen and a little shed to store the food.
Gasoline savings helped pay for a kennel expansion. Today the kennels are covered and enclosed by a permanent structure and adjoin a building with an office and small clinic.
The Mount Carmel Animal Control Department has one part-time animal control officer, and the program is supervised by MCPD Officer Stacy Vaughan.
What really spurred the overcrowding problem was the birth of a litter of eight puppies. The mother was brought in as a stray in early May and then had her litter on Memorial Day.
“They’re all very good dogs, very friendly,” Vaughan said. “Every dog we have is a good-natured dog. They’re healthy and there’s not a mean one in the bunch, so we’re really hoping to find a good home for all 22 dogs.”
Adopting a dog from Mount Carmel is basically free. Adopters must put down a $25 deposit, which is returned when they show proof that the dog has been spayed or neutered.
Jackson said he hasn’t set an adoption deadline. At this point he said he’s willing to wait “as long as it takes.”
“Usually when we pick an animal up it’s got a tag on it and we can get it back to its owner pretty quick,” Jackson said. “Even if it’s a stray we can find somebody to adopt it out. This year we’ve had a few problems doing that, we kind of got backed up, and we really don’t want to put any of these animals down.
“We really need people to come look at what we’ve got and see if they can’t give it a good home.”
To inquire about adopting a dog from the Mount Carmel kennel, call Vaughan at 817-2986 or part-time animal control officer Brad Fields at 817-2971.