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Commissioners set to vote on animal shelter, county courthouse

Commissioners set to vote on animal shelter, county courthouse
August 10
05:00 2017

Forsyth County commissioners are scheduled to vote on contracting with the Forsyth Humane Society for animal adoptions and moving forward with a new courthouse in their next meeting on Thursday, Aug. 17.

The commissioners will be voting on a five-year contract  for the Forsyth Humane Society to  handle dog and cat adoptions at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter. The county will pay the nonprofit up to $510,714 a year with an annual 2 percent adjustment for inflation. The county will be handling other animals in the shelter and any euthanasia that’s necessary. Animal Control will still handle calls for dangerous or abused animals.

Strays that come in will be in the county’s custody for the mandatory 72-hour hold period that gives owners time to claim lost animals. The county and Humane Society will jointly make decisions on which dogs and cats are put up for adoption. The Humane Society has a long track record on animal adoption at its own no-kill shelter on Country Club Road.

“Adoption is really our expertise, and hopefully we’ll be able to adopt out more animals while we are implementing more programs that will reduce the number of animals coming into the shelter,” said Humane Society Executive Director Sarah Williamson.

Williamson said it’s part of the Humane Society’s goal of reducing euthanasia in the county from 64 percent to 10 percent or less by 2023.  She said the nonprofit will be working with community partners to increase adoptions, animal medical care and access to spay and neutering for pets.

Once an animal goes into the Humane Society’s adoption program, it will not be euthanized. The Humane Society typically has a two-week wait for animals to get into its current limited admission shelter. Cats stay an average of 14 days and dogs stay for seven days on average. Williamson said the group will be adopting out animals as quickly as possible at the county shelter and transferring as many as possible to other rescue programs. Last year, the Humane Society adopted out 1,153 cats and dogs.

The county’s animal shelter has sometimes been a source of controversy over the way some animals there are cared for and euthanized. County Commissioner Everette Witherspoon brought up the idea that the Humane Society should euthanize the animals so it isn’t just the county taking the heat when controversies arise.

“They’re not most of the complaints, but they’re the loudest complaints,” said Witherspoon about euthanasia concerns.

Williamson said that Humane Society staff will be taking part in the euthanasia decisions at the shelter, but there’s currently no plans for them to do the euthanizing.

If approved, the contract will begin on Sept. 1. The county plans to reduce its shelter staff, though those employees will be considered by the Humane Society for its shelter positions.

Also during the agenda for Aug. 17 is a vote to move forward on one of the options to replace the aging county courthouse. The three main options are currently: $112 million for renovating the existing Hall of Justice and adding a new tower, $145 million for a new 10-story courthouse that would be built in the lot beside the Forsyth County Government Center on Chestnut Street and $127 million for a new five-story courthouse in that same lot with a five-story building across the street for courthouse offices.

The county already agreed to buy the lot next to the Government Center from its current owner, Edward Hall LLC for $850,000 if it has no easements. The land is 1.2 acres and is currently an empty lot with 72 parking spaces used by the neighboring Victoria Hall.

Currently the land has a 0.2 acre easement to allow cars to get in and out of the Victoria Hall parking deck, which reduces the county’s offer for the land to $700,000. The purchase is in a due diligence phase until October, so the county can still cancel for any reason.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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