TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Smith County Commissioners Court unanimously approved the county’s animal control policy changes on Tuesday and they will now begin charging for adoptions and owner transfers.
Animal Control and Shelter Supervisor Amber Greene gave a presentation detailing approved changes she said were created to address concerns about animal control and shelter operations.
The newly approved policies include the following:
The animal shelter will start charging $75 for adoptions. Adoption was previously free. At the time of adoption, the adoptee will receive a voucher for sterilization and rabies.
The shelter coordinator or director can waive any fees if necessary “upon showing good cause or financial hardship,” according to Greene.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Cary Nix said adding adoption fees could negatively impact the shelter.
“You now have free adoptions and you can’t adopt them,” Nix said. “What makes you think when you start charging $75 that all of a sudden they’re going to start adopting dogs. There are issues here that we have.
Buyout by owner
Owner buyouts will be by appointment only, subject to space availability and an online application is required. Smith County Animal Control will now begin charging rebates with fees based on the dog’s age, health and verification.
Fees are estimated at $200 per dog or $75 for 1-3 puppies 4 months and under, $100 for 4 or more puppies 4 months and under, $150 if fully vaccinated with proof, $100 if spayed/neutered with proof or $75 if fully vaccinated and neutered with proof.
Owners are asked to give copies of all current veterinary records to the shelter and provide photo ID with proof of county residency. Animal Control said it had the right to refuse a dog for any reason and would not accept any more surrenders once the shelter reached 80% capacity.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Neal Franklin asked Greene if adding fees with discounts would increase the number of abandoned and stray dogs. Greene said the shelter is currently refusing surrenders.
Animal Control will not accept dogs found outside Smith County or in an incorporated city or within city limits.
Finders must provide photo ID and complete paperwork indicating where the dog was found and that they don’t know who owns the dog. Stray dogs can now be dropped off outside the front door Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Animal control officers will not be required to hand over owners’ handovers to the shelter, but “advise dog owners who wish to hand over their dog to the shelter to make an appointment.”
If a person leaves a rented property and abandons their dog, if the owner sees the dog in distress and does not contact animal control, the liability could lie with the owner, according to Greene. However, an appropriate waiting period on how long the owner must contact animal control has not yet been set.
The Smith County Animal Shelter will now offer public entry to the shelter from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Animal Control will be open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Animal Control bought a carport and put kennels outside “so the dogs have time outside,” according to Greene.
They are working on signage for the front of the shelter and are working on getting a transport van with kennels and said they would favor microchipping.
There is now a requirement for three full-time kennel technicians and Greene said they will come up with a plan for the unused empty space in the shelter near the kennel area. The commissioner’s court said it did not want to promote the expansion of the facility.
“This is definitely a work in progress,” County Judge Nathaniel Moran said.