KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Changes are on the way to some animal shelter operations in the Tri-Cities region.
After years of working together, the city of Kingsport and Sullivan County announced plans to separate shelter operations.
“We have two shelters. We have one in Kingsport and one in Blountville. That lets us separate the operations of those two,” Petworks President Tom Parham said.
The decision, Parham says, allows plans to move forward to build a new shelter, though a now down-sized one, on Stone Drive.
For now, he says that new shelter will be a city of Kingsport project with help from private donors.
“I’m pleased that we’re at this step and that we didn’t just back off and give up,” said Parham.
It comes after the Sullivan County commission did not fund the construction of the new building in its recent budget.
“We could not participate in that, and it’s purely economical,” said Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable.
Moving forward, the separation does mean the shelters will have to restrict intake – only taking in animals from each respective area, but it won’t have an impact on visitation or adoption.
“I think the main thing they’ll see is a movement forward for the construction of a new shelter,” Parham said.
The shelter will be designed to easily expand. It is an option Mayor Venable says he isn’t ruling out.
“If we determine that that location and that operation meets our county citizen’s needs, we’re always open to go back and we always have that invitation,” Venable said.
The Sullivan County commission will consider a proposal to withdraw from the Petworks partnership. Mayor Venable said he expects that to come up at the county’s November meeting.
The separation of city and county shelter operations will become final by December 31st.
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