Here at the Humane Society we get a lot of questions regarding our policies concerning stray and owner surrender animals. We are hoping this clears up some of the misconceptions and questions.
The local ordinance for Hamblen County defines Owner of animal as “any person having temporary or permanent custody of, sheltering or having charge of, harboring, exercising control over, or having rights to, any animal covered by these regulations. An animal shall be deemed to be harbored if it is fed or sheltered for three (3) consecutive days or more, or allowed to stay on property unreported as a stray.
When citizens find an animal they need to report the animal found to the Humane Society as soon as possible. You can do this by calling us, sending us a message on Facebook or by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Humane Society will post the animal found and give the owner a chance to find the animal. Citizens may keep the animal if they wish until an owner comes forward or they can bring the stray in to the Shelter. You may also bring the animal to the Shelter or a local vet to have it checked for a microchip. If a citizen decides to not bring the stray to the shelter, and has made an honest effort to find an owner, the citizen may keep the animal if they wish.
We have a lot of citizens that will keep a stray cat or dog for a few weeks or months and then decide they want to bring it to the Shelter. There are citizens that will begin to feed a stray cat or dog with the intentions of keeping the animal. When the animal then becomes sick or has offspring the citizen will then bring the animal to the Shelter claiming it is a stray. We ask that if a citizen keeps a stray they get the animal altered and vaccinated. The animal according to the law is now their animal and an owner surrender form will need to be completed and signed and a fee will apply. The fee the Shelter charges for owner surrenders is only a small portion of what it costs to house and care for an animal.
The Shelter gets a lot of feral cats and kittens every year because citizens will feed a stray cat and allow the cats to multiply. Once they have too many cats and cannot afford to feed and care for them, they bring them into the shelter and say they are strays. Most of these cats are sick and feral and cannot be adopted out. We ask that unless you are planning on caring for these animals for their lifetime do not keep them. It is better to bring in one stray then to bring in several cats later that cannot be adopted out.
We want citizens to understand that taking on a pet is a commitment for the lifetime of the pet. We strongly encourage citizens to consider all costs and time that it takes to care for an animal. The Shelter only gets subsidized from the City of Morristown and Hamblen County to take in strays – not owner surrenders.
The cost for the Shelter to feed, vaccinate and care for an owner animal until it can be adopted is not covered by the funds the City of Morristown and Hamblen County pay. The cost can be anywhere from $65.00 to $150.00 depending on the medical and/or behavioural needs of the animal. We only recoup part of this cost in adoption fees.