Southern Pines disputes allegations of Petal animal warden

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Board members and supporters of the Southern Pines Animal Shelter were at the Petal Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday to refute allegations against them by the cities animal warden.

The board voted two-weeks ago to not renew their contract and instead sign one with the Hub City Humane Society. The decision was made after the animal warden told them of her concerns with the shelter's euthanasia process, lack of adequate shelter for animals brought in after hours, and the frequency of how often the kennels were cleaned. James Moore, Board of Directors Vice President, disputed the allegations and questioned the board on how they could make the decision based on the word of one-person who may be bias toward the Hub City organization.

"I do put my trust in the people we hire," said Hal Marx, Petal Mayor. "If we employ someone to be an expert in their field and we don't trust their judgement, we shouldn't hire them to be an expert. I don't know of any reason why our animal warden would make up allegations."

Mayor Marx admitted that he nor any of the alderman had been to either facility to check out the operations or investigate the allegations prior to making a decision. Moore told the board it was faulty thinking to make a hasty decision before investigating the allegations.

"I want the community and the aldermen to know that they put their faith in the word of one employee," said Moore. They were given some information that in our opinion was misleading."

Moore also questioned the board about the legality of using tax payer dollars to build kennel runs for Hub City on private property in Lamar County.

"There's no illegal issue there because we have donated money to Southern Pines and they've done remodeling on private property," said Marx. We've sent workers there before, actually Mr. Moore one time requested that we send some city crews over there to help with some clean-up and our lawyer has no problem with it."

The loss of the contract will mean a loss of $30,000 a year to the shelter. Moore said there will have to be a re-working of the budget and some cuts may have to be made, but despite the hit he said they will continue to bring the same level of service to the community.

After the meeting, Mayor Marx said the contract with Hub City had already been signed and he feels the city has made the right decision.

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