The Oxford Board of Aldermen is exploring options for opening a spay and neuter shelter in town to replace the work done by the Oxford Lafayette Humane Society, which recently decided to end its contract with the city.
The Aldermen voted Aug. 14 to begin accepting applications from organizations seeking to pick up the city’s animal control and shelter services once carried out by OLHS. The humane society’s contract formally terminates on Sept. 30, at which point the animals currently housed there will be sent to different area shelters.
Alderman John Morgan said he feels that the main reason the contract ended was that OLHS accepted animals from surrounding counties, which led to overpopulation.
“That was basically the downfall of the shelter,” Morgan said. “Other people may argue different things, but we just had too many animals.”
Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said that there has been a lot of confusion about the animal shelter’s relationship with the city recently. According to Tannehill, the city has a contract with OLHS, but the animal services are “not a city-run organization.” She said that OLHS, not the city, is responsible for the shelter’s day-to-day operations.
“The day that we found out that Oxford Lafayette Humane Society would like to terminate that contract (on) Sept. 30 – that same day – we voted to have this (proposal) drawn up to continue to utilize that building for the same use,” Tannehill said.
Tannehill said that OLHS will continue to accept animals until its contract with the city ends, but it will now only accept animals it receives from Lafayette County residents.
According to OLHS board member and spokesperson Lee Habeeb, the population of animals at the shelter has increased over the years.
“The number of animals has continued to increase while the number of adoptees has, unfortunately, not,” Habeeb said. “We began to realize that there was no end in sight to achieving our initial goal – tackling the problem of homeless animals in the Oxford-Lafayette community.”
Though the city and county provide 30 percent of the shelter’s monetary resources, the other 70 percent is donated by the community. However, Habeeb said that the decision to close the shelter was not made because of any funding issues.
After the shelter closes, the board of aldermen will be looking into opening a spay and neuter clinic, according to Habeeb.
“Research around the country shows that communities that spay and neuter, rather than adopt, see a significant decrease in their wild animal populations,” Habeeb said.
Meanwhile, the animals currently housed by OLHS will be divided and moved to other shelters in Tupelo and Yalobusha County if they are not adopted by Sept. 30. OLHS is currently looking for more partners to take animals. The board, Habeeb assured, is looking into other options, but the current animals cannot be released back into the wild.
“It is depressing, but euthanasia has been a fact of life since we’ve opened the shelter,” Habeeb said. “It’s actually one of the reasons we’ve decided to close the shelter. The number of euthanized animals has increased as more sick animals came in and other animals weren’t adopted. Hopefully, opening a spay and neuter clinic will lessen the amount of euthanasia and wild animals in the community.”
The Oxford Lafayette Humane Society is urging members of the community to adopt before Sept. 30.