SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – The Sevier County Humane Society voted Tuesday to no longer serve as an animal shelter, but rather a more “traditional” humane society role in the community.
The group will no longer take in animals starting on July 1. Sevier County Humane Society Vice President Cheri Hagmeier says the group doesn’t receive adequate government funding to continue operating as an animal shelter.
“People can still come and adopt these animals. We have probably 150 pets that need homes,” said Hagmeier.
The Sevier County Humane Society received in 2016-17, $85,000 from the county, $33,000 from Sevierville, another $37,000 from Gatlinburg, and $35,000 from Pigeon Forge. Representatives with Sevier County say in next year’s budget, leaders decided to reallocate increased funding to the Pets Without Parents shelter.
“But it doesn’t make sense to under fund them and under fund us,” said Hagmeier.
Hagmeier says she hopes the transition into having an animal control shelter and a humane society will be a good marriage in the community. The nearly 10-acre property SCHS purchased to build a bigger and better facility is no longer needed.
“We will market that property and we are looking for something that’s about an acre to a half acre with an adoption center. We won’t need a holding facility,” added Hagmeier.
The shelter’s current building on Gnatty Branch Road will also be sold.
Previous story: Sevier County Humane Society building reopens after wildfires
SCHS was forced to evacuate its shelter due to the Gatlinburg wildfires. The shelter had extensive smoke and wind damage, and they say operating at the Sevier County Fairgrounds for four months was taxing.
Hagmeier says the thousands of dollars in donations received during November’s wildfires has already been spent. She says it was used during those months to pay for the injured animals’ medical bills, food, bedding, kennels and boarding, as well as heating the barn at the Sevier County Fairgrounds.
SCHS leaders say next year’s budget is still up in the air but they want everyone to know one thing.
“The animals are cared for. They will have a place to go,” said Hagmeier.
Sevier County representatives spoke collectively for the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville by saying they’re disappointed in the actions of SCHS’ board of directors. “There was no warning of their action to stop accepting animals on July 1, 2017, and that decision puts those animals at risk,” they said in a statement.
More online: Pets Without Parents
Pets Without Parents will now be taking in animals on a limited basis. That shelter is undergoing an expansion and is located at 901 Mize Lane in Sevierville.