Oxford established the city’s first no-kill animal shelter for the first time in nearly 25 years on Oct. 1.
On Sept. 25 the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved a year-long contract for Mississippi Critterz, a no-kill animal shelter that will serve animals only from Oxford and Lafayette County.
Oxford Lafayette Humane Society was the city’s previous animal shelter. According to Alderwoman Janice Antonow, OLHS decided to not renew its contract with the city in August, after nearly 25 years of operation.
“They (OLHS) were feeling overwhelmed by the number of animals that had to be put in the shelter because the citizens in this area of Mississippi and this part of the country don’t spay and neuter their animals as they should,” Antonow said. “There are litters being born all the time, and people that don’t want them surrender them or … leave them out for animal control.”
The contract with OLHS continued until its official end date of Sept. 30, and the contract for Mississippi Critterz began on Oct. 1. Mississippi Critterz will move into the former OLHS building on McElroy Drive on Oct. 17.
“We’re really excited to move into (the facility), and the only difference between us and OLHS is that we’re not going to be taking from out(side) of (Lafayette) County. All of the funding from the taxpayers is going directly to Oxford and Lafayette County animals, only,” Mississippi Critterz Board Vice President Brandee Ledene said.
According to reports on its website, OLHS impounded 1,040 animals from January to April. The animals were from Oxford, Lafayette County, at least 19 other Mississippi counties, Tennessee and other states. Its average intake was 9.3 animals per day.
During this time period, OLHS euthanized approximately 39 percent and adopted out 48 percent of animals. The shelter had an overall 65 percent live release rate.
“We are going to run as a no-kill facility. That is going to be the biggest difference between (Mississippi Critterz and OLHS). We’re going to be very, very focused on transports, very focused on fosters and reaching out and having community influence,” Ledene said.
Mississippi Critterz began as a nonprofit corporation in March. After the Board of Aldermen issued a request for proposals due on Sept. 20, Mississippi Critterz and Mississippi Humane submitted proposals and participated in interviews on Sept. 24.
“We selected Mississippi Critterz,” Antonow said. “They had a more reasonable budget that we could work with. Their budget request was within what the city could do.”
According to a city ordinance, no animals, except cats, are allowed to roam at large within Oxford’s city limits.
“What the animal organization that gets this contract does is enforce this city ordinance and … take in animals from the city that people surrender,” Antonow said.
Ledene said Mississippi Critterz partners with Bottletree Animal Hospital and Animal Clinic of Oxford to provide spay-and-neuter and vaccination services, and it has already received much support from the community and university organizations.
“We can’t do this without the community, just like Oxford really can’t do it without the student community,” Ledene said. “This town thrives off the students, and we’re going to thrive off the community in general.”