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Council talks Russellville animal shelter

Care of lost and abandoned animals is no new subject in Russellville. At the Sept. 6 city council meeting, a concerned citizen spoke up with his concerns about Russellville’s current policies.

Kenneth King encouraged the city to pursue a reduced-cost spay and neutering program and reach out to Shoals-based animal rescue and adoption groups for advice and assistance on establishing an animal shelter.

“I know they can’t all be saved. I understand that,” King said. “If Colbert County and Lauderdale County can do it … we can at least get something started.”

Mayor David Grissom said discussions are currently taking place for an improved animal adoption process in Russellville, but nothing is confirmed to the point that details could be shared.

Russellville Animal Control Officer Donnie Franks said a formal adoption program and new animal housing facility have been under intense discussion in Russellville for at least the past four or five months. But one truth he emphasized is that although Russellville doesn’t have an “official” policy or process for adoption of stray or owner-surrendered animals, he makes every effort to find new homes for every animal he can.

“Last year, I got two beautiful German Shepherds. The lady’s husband had passed away, and she said, ‘I just can’t handle them.’ Now, these were registered, well-disciplined, beautiful (dogs),” Franks said. “A month or two back, I had four kittens that were half-grown, and I knew they had been raised in a house, litter-trained and everything.” In both cases, Franks said he was able to find these animals homes by networking with animal rescue groups and veterinarians.

Franks said, however, that many animals that wind up in animal control are in extremely poor health and unfit for adoption. “That happens more than you could imagine,” he said.

When it comes to the future of animal control, including a new facility and formal adoption process, “we’re wanting to take a baby step in that direction … we’re in the planning stages,” Franks said. He said the city is in talks with coordinating with Franklin County to provide improved services jointly. “We will be better off with nearly anything than we’ve ever been before.”

Animal lovers and rescue/foster/adoption advocates in attendance at the September city council meeting also spoke up with their own thoughts on the need for improved animal adoption procedures in Russellville.

Cheryl Jones assured the council that assistance is available, and a ready volunteer base exists in Franklin County. Jones works with rescue groups in Lauderdale and Colbert counties and with the Florence Lauderdale Animal Shelter and has worked with Franklin County abandoned dogs.

“We are happy to set up the adoption program … It’s time for you all to address that issue and handle it,” she said. “We’re all happy to show you how to do it because in the end it’s a community issue.”

Franks said with municipal and county elections this year, the timing for progress has been impacted, but discussion continues on what can be done. “We have some input we have liked and feel really good about. It’s something we think we can achieve,” Franks said. “Everybody involved at every level is saying, ‘We want to move in that direction.’”