Columbia Animal shelter moving forward with restructure

Columbia Animal shelter moving forward with restructure
The Columbia Police Department released a statement saying they plan on improving the animal control (Photo Source: Columbia Animal shelter Facebook)

COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - The future of the Columbia Animal shelter was the topic of Tuesday's Board of Aldermen meeting.

Chief of Police Michael Kelly, who's been in his position for three weeks, said the decision to restructure to the shelter came quickly after him swearing in.

"Within a couple of days of me coming in," Kelly said. "The animal shelter staff came to me and they told me about some deficiencies that was in the shelter."

Deficiencies such as infestations and an excess amount of animal feces were just a few of the problems with the shelter,according to Kelly and city board members.

Board members said part of the shelter's failure was due to poor management, but former manager Amanda Bennett, who's been in care of the shelter for three years, said that's not completely the case.

"I've asked time and time again from different resources and different help," said Bennett in the board meeting. "I'm glad to see that there's more involvement because for the longest it was just me."

Kelly said the shelter is technically a municipal animal pound, and the department plans on running it that way with guidance from professionals from Louisiana State University.

He said the goal is to secure all the animals homes and that euthanization was never on the table.

"Let me clarify," Kelly said. "There's sometimes within the law that euthanization is the most humane way to deal with an animal. If we have to euthanize it, I've already put the order in, it will be in the most dignified and humane way possible. But, that's not our goal."

Kelly said that right now, he is working with outside experts on how long animals will be kept in the pound and what steps need to be taken before a dog is adoptable.

As far as the animals in the county are concerned, Kelly said that's a decision that's left up to the board.

"Whatever that policy is that is place by the mayor and the board is the policy that I'm going to go by," said Kelly. "So, if they tell our animal control person to go out into the county and take rescues in the county, then that's exactly what we're going to do."

The new animal control officer will start work Wednesday morning. Board members said he was giving a full scholarship to attend Louisiana State University for a week to attend seminars on animal control safety to properly run the shelter.

"The Columbia Animal Shelter is going to be great for this community," said Kelly. "The community is going to be proud of it. It's going to be something that we're going to work very hard. It's going to be better than what it is today. I can assure people of that. I have invested interest into it because I'm the Police Chief, and I'm responsible for it."