Aldermen consider options for city’s animal shelter services

Posted on Aug 14 2018 - 8:30pm by Taylor Vance and Jordan Holman

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 Tuesday to begin accepting applications from organizations seeking to pick up the city’s animal control and shelter services once carried out by the Oxford Lafayette Humane Society.

Alderman John Morgan said he feels the main reason the contract ended was because the OLHS accepted animals from surrounding counties, which led to so much 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 there has been a lot of confusion about the animal shelter’s relationship with the city recently. She said the city has a contract with the OLHS, but the animal services are “not a city-run organization,” and OHLS, 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 September 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 the OLHS will continue to accept animals until its contract with the city ends, but it will now only accept animals from Lafayette County.

According to OLHS board member and spokesperson Lee Habeeb, the population of animals at the shelter has increased over the last few 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.”

Habeeb said the decision to close the shelter was not made due to any funding issues. Though the city and county provide 30 percent of the shelter’s monetary resources, the other 70 percent is donated by the community.  

When the shelter closes, the Board of Aldermen are 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 in the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society could be euthanized if they are not adopted by September 30th.  The board, Habeeb assured, is looking into other options but the current animals cannot be released back into the wild by any means.  

“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 euthanasia 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 come out and adopt before September 30.