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Who let the dogs out?

By Staff
KISSING POOCH Cheryl Walton discussed the stray animal problem with Lauderdale County supervisors Monday, asking for land to support her makeshift humane society. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Lauderdale County supervisors are considering a new solution to the stray dog problem leasing county land to a private organization so a shelter can be built by volunteers.
Causeyville animal activist Cheryl Walton and supporters Ron Walton, Vickie Neal and Jody Ward met with county officials Monday for an update on what had been done since the last such meeting two months ago.
District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt, District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell, and Sheriff Billy Sollie and Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department attended the meeting.
Hitt said supervisors checked with Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore's office to see if county sanitation funds could be used to expand the city's animal shelter but the answer was no.
City officials estimate it would cost the county $100,000 to build a 55-foot by 60-foot by 12-foot expansion.
Boswell said funding would not have been a problem before Oct. 1, when supervisors could have levied a tax specifically for animal control during their budgeting process.
Neal said Meridian Community College's Phi Beta Lambda has agreed to build the facility as their spring project at no cost to the county. Walton said she might be able to get building materials donated.
Boswell said supervisors may be able to lease a large piece of county land to a Humane Society organization for a low fee.
She said if the organization had an established facility, they could also house animals picked up by sheriff's deputies or county patrolmen.
Calhoun said putting animals to sleep could become costly.
Walton said city officials have quoted two figures $7 and $15 for euthanizing animals. Last year the county was charged $18 for each animal the city took a total of $25,470 for 407 cats and 1,008 dogs, Hitt said. He said this year, after the county pays for a building expansion, the fee per animal would rise to $30.
Hitt and Boswell told the group they would talk with the other three supervisors about leasing the organization county land and would contact them in a week to 10 days.
Until then Walton and the others say they will keep doing what they're doing housing animals until they have no more room. Walton has 15 dogs, and Neal and Ward have 17 dogs and 25-30 cats.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@meridianstar.com.

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