Southern Pines Shelter issues ultimatum to counties

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Southern Pines Animal Shelter is giving an ultimatum to the 11 counties it serves: if you don't sign a contract helping to fund us, you're residents will pay for it.

"October 1 we will be increasing our animal surrender fees, that's what you pay if you drop off an animal that becomes our responsibility," said Southern Pines Board Vice President James Moore. "Counties that are under contract with us, their residents will continue to pay the lowest fee that we offer, which is starting at $15 per animal. Counties that are not under contract, those residents will see a significant increase in the amount they pay to have an animal become our responsibility."

The shelter is approaching the Board of Supervisors is all of the counties one by one with tailored contracts - $5000 per year for smaller counties, 25 thousand for Jones, Lamar and Forrest counties. Until now, Forrest and Lamar have been the only counties substantially funding the shelter.

"It just seemed awfully unfair that some counties were paying and other counties were not," said Moore.

Thursday the Forrest County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to sign the shelter's contract, and in doing so agree to pay several thousand dollars more to the shelter than they have in past years.

"Their new approach makes a lot more sense than us or any other individual agency taking on the full burden," said Board of Supervisors President David Hogan.

For years the shelter's been overcrowded, the staff overworked and the program itself woefully underfunded and, given that Southern Pines takes in thousands of Pine Belt animals each year, when it's come to funding, its services seem often overlooked.

"Residents never see the thousands of animals that would be roaming the streets were it not for us," says Moore.

Moore says the new funding model has the potential to raise more than $1000 a year for the non-profit shelter. He says that will go to badly needed renovations including a new parking lot, more sanitary flooring and new kennel gates.