Group presses for no-kill shelter

Tony Casey • Nov 26, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Jonesborough’s Katie O’Grady heads a Johnson City area pro-life movement, but not for the lives of humans.

Although her morals call for her to consider every life precious, she and other group members are in the beginning stages of organizing awareness against animal shelters that kill unwanted pets.

“We’re God’s people,” O’Grady said. She said the Bible’s day of rest originated in giving animals a break from their work, and a deep consideration for them should be put in place.

With plans for a new Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter moving forward, O’Grady’s group had a “no-kill shelter meet-up” Monday night at a local pizza restaurant. The group calls the mass disposal of unwanted domesticated animals a “dog holocaust,” and fires aggressively at the Animal Control Board. They hope to have the board decide to make the new shelter one that doesn’t kill a single animal.

O’Grady said Johnson City Commissioner Jenny Brock called the euthanasia rate at the animal shelter abysmal. She also said Brock’s fellow commissioner, Jeff Banyas, called for a no-kill shelter, but was met with strong opposition from the board.

Don and Joy Ferris, of Piney Flats, who have eight dogs themselves, were the other present members of the group. The couple hopes for an overall awareness in the area to the plight of unwanted dogs. In a dream scenario, Joy Ferris said she’d like to see a network for people looking to link up with the pets they might want. She said there’s a lack of communication between people who have animals available and people who want to adopt or rescue those animals.

The price of adopting a dog is far too high, O’Grady said. She said the shelter charges $80, and thinks $35 would be more of an acceptable price. If she could choose the design of the already determined shelter, she would have a big building where animals would be cycled in and out of the pound for the public to see, hoping that all dogs get chosen for a new home.

O’Grady said she simply wants no more lives lost. With the city’s consideration of instituting a spay-and-neuter ordinance that would push for effective methods of keeping animal numbers down, O’Grady said members of the Animal Control Board are not educated on the issues, and says Johnson City is not dog-friendly overall.

The opportunities are there, O’Grady says, to link people with animals that could give them hope or change their lives for the better. She said the VA campus could provide a way to build lasting relationships with dogs and veterans, or even with prisoners. Another idea Joy Ferris said she thought of would be to get college students involved to teach the youth of tomorrow how to raise and treat animals.

“We don’t want children to grow up treating animals as disposable,” Ferris said.

With no concrete plans in mind, the group hopes to get people discussing the possibilities. O’Grady was unaware that Animal Control Board meetings are open to the public and plans to attend them in the future.

But the next step for her cause is to get people to contact board members and push for better outcomes for dogs in Washington County and surrounding areas because of what dogs could bring to a potential owner’s life.

“It hurts that they don’t get a fair shake,” O’Grady said. “They could go on to be the dog that helps a child with their seizures.”

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