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MS Critterz Wants County to Pay More for Animal Shelter

By Alyssa Schnugg
News Editor

The director of Mississippi Critterz, Gail Brown, told the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors Monday that it was time to “step up” and help support the animal shelter.

MS Critterz was selected by Oxford officials to run the animal shelter on McElroy Drive after the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society informed the city it would no longer be operating the shelter and providing animal control services as of Sept. 30.

The final contracts are still being signed, Brown said Monday at the Supervisor’s regular board meeting, and she expects the shelter to open its doors again around November.

However, MS Critterz is having to raise enough funds to make sure the shelter is ready to open in about 30 days.

“We need everything from paper clips to kennels,” she said.

In previous years, the county has contributed about 25,000 toward the shelter and Brown said Monday it’s not enough.

She asked the board to consider doing a formal contract, separate from the city of Oxford and pay the same price per animal as the city pays, which is $78 per dog or cat. The would make the county’s contribution about $92,830.

“We need the county to step up and pay in accordance with what the city is paying,” Brown said.

The city also pays for animal control services. They will be giving MS Critterz about $106,269 annually.

“The city supplies the building and pays for its utilities as well,” Brown said.

According to numbers gathered by the former OLHS, Brown said in 2017, about 1,035 animals from the county were received at the shelter compared to about 702 from the city. While under the OLHS, the shelter also took in animals from several surrounding counties; however, Brown said Monday that practice will no longer take place.

“We are only taking in animals from Oxford and Lafayette County,” she told the supervisors. “We are going to more stringent on requiring people dropping animals off to prove proof of residency.”

Supervisor Mike Roberts questioned how the board could be sure the numbers were correct.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t do our part, but I have a responsibility that before I spend taxpayer money to make sure I’m basing that situation on up-to-date numbers.”

Brown said she’d be happy to come back after six months and present the numbers again and then make any changes in funding that are necessary.

Supervisor Kevin Frye suggested Brown work with County Attorney David O’Donnell and supervisors David Rikard – who sat on the selection committee for the city of Oxford, and Chad McLarty, who was the liaison for the OLHS board – and come back to the board on Oct. 15 with a written contract for the board to consider.

In the meantime, Brown said her focus is getting the shelter up and running and that will take help from the community through donations of time or money.

Until the shelter is ready to house animals, foster homes are needed and can apply online at mscritterz.com.

“Our need for foster homes has increased dramatically,” Brown said. 

“Anyone can apply and we’ll review those applications on a case-by-case basis.”

Brown said the shelter will be a “No-Kill,” shelter – to the best of their ability.

“Of course, there are times we will have to humanely euthanize an animal if they’re too sick or injured to have a good quality of life,” she said. “But we will not euthanize for space issues.”

Other immediate needs are kennels and a van for transporting animals and for animal control services, so cash donations are most appreciated and needed right now, Brown said.

“If we can raise enough money then we can buy everything we need,” she said.

Donations can be made online at the MS Critterz website.

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