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Hawkins County Humane Society seeks $10,000 for 'puppy nursery'

June 18th, 2012 10:08 pm by Jeff Bobo

Hawkins County Humane Society seeks $10,000 for 'puppy nursery'

Hawkins County Humane Society kennel attendant Sandy Behnke holds one of two black Lab puppies that survived a parvo outbreak from the litter. The Humane Society is seeking $10,000 extra from the County Commission to build a puppy nursery to separate the

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Humane Society is asking for an additional $10,000 from the Hawkins County Commission in the upcoming fiscal year to pay for construction of a puppy nursery intended to curb parvo outbreaks.

The commission’s Budget Committee discussed the request during its regular monthly meeting Monday but took no position on the request.

The HCHS, which operates as a nonprofit organization independent of the county, already receives an annual $15,000 contribution from the county. That contribution is a significant portion of its annual operating budget, which is around $90,000.

The full County Commission will consider a resolution requesting the additional $10,000 when it meets in regular session June 25.

Commissioner Stacy Vaughan, who sits on the Budget Committee, formerly operated Mount Carmel’s municipal animal shelter. Vaughan noted that Mount Carmel’s shelter, which serves a community of 5,500 people, is the same size as the shelter that serves the rest of the county.

“They’re in dire need of something,” Vaughan said. “Animal control is a major problem in the county, and the Humane Society does put a dent as much as it can. It’s really packed up there to the point they have to turn dogs away.”

Vaughan added: “For this size county, that size shelter is not adequate.”

County Mayor Melville Bailey and Committee Chairman Gary Hicks expressed the same concern, which is what would happen to the HCHS building and property if its board of directors ever decided to stop operating.

Bailey said some board members who are getting older have asked for someone else to take the reins, and no one is stepping forward.

Bailey noted that a lot of negative information is circulating about the HCHS, mostly in the form of e-mails. They’re calling the HCHS a “slaughterhouse” and “puppy killers.”

Bailey said when he has contacted the people spreading this information and asked them to meet him, however, many are from out of state and don’t want to get involved beyond the point of sending malicious e-mails.

“I’ve had numerous e-mails about the condition they’re dealing with there, which is parvo,” Bailey said. “Most of the time if a dog comes in with parvo you can’t identify it immediately. It gets in the kennel, and it’s devastating.”

Bailey added: “They’re wanting to spread out, and they’re also asking for donations of building materials. If they can get so many two-by-fours, two-by-sixes, block — and then get some skilled people who can donate that work — if the commission decides to give them $10,000 they might use that money wisely and get much more bang for your buck.”

HCHS kennel attendant Sandy Behnke told the Times-News Monday the board of directors wants to extend the west wall out and enlarge the area currently used for newspaper, blanket and feed storage so that a puppy nursery can be added.

The nursery would be located behind the reception area. Behnke said ideally there would be a glass wall separating the public from the nursery so that the public could observe the puppies and hopefully pick one for adoption.

But the main purpose of the puppy nursery would be to quarantine puppies from the adults to curb the spread of parvo, which has caused substantial death in the shelter’s puppy population. Behnke noted that a new litter of five labs was reduced by three due to parvo, but the two survivors have been treated and vaccinated and are doing well awaiting adoption.

“Puppies are more susceptible to parvo than the older dogs, and a lot of people blame the Hawkins County Humane Society for parvo. But parvo lives in a dog for 10 days up to two weeks before it even shows symptoms,” Behnke said. “People bring them in, and they’ve already got parvo. Then the dog next to it gets it, and a dog over two usually won’t get it. It’s usually just puppies.”

Behnke added: “It’s airborne, and it just spreads, so to keep them (puppies) away from the older dogs, they have a better chance of living.”

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