Thomas County Commissioners move forward with plans for a new animal shelter

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 11:02 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A new animal shelter is on its way to Thomas County just two months after a decades-long contract between the county and the local humane society ended January 1.

WCTV first covered the story back in December, when the Humane Society came forward with concerns about the future of animals services. Officials from both the County Commission and the Humane Society shared that they could not come to an agreement on a future contract, despite the current contract coming to an end.

The termination forced the Humane Society to scale back on services and left the county with the task of providing animal control.

For the past two months, those responsibilities have been passed on to the Thomas County Sheriff’s Office, under the control of Captain Chuck McDonald.

Since the contract dissolved, McDonald says the sheriff’s office is averaging 15-20 animal-related phone calls a day. However, to help combat the additional duties, two field services employees have been hired.

TCSO also held a free microchipping event to help make the process of “reuniting” lost animals with their rightful owners easier.

“Our goal is to reunite, not to have to take to the shelter, once we get it up and running,” said McDonald. “The only way we can really do that is number one, if someone is advertising on social media that they’ve lost a pet, but more importantly, if it’s chipped.”

Officials say at least 300 people showed up March 4 for the microchipping event, and about 209 animals, cats and dogs were actually chipped.

New equipment was donated to help scan for chips in lost animals. Temperature guns were also provided to the sheriff’s office to be able to check the condition of a car when animals are left in them. But the biggest development is the proposal of a new shelter being built and run by the County Commissioners.

“The county is in the process of moving forward with building a shelter. It will be under the county’s governing,” said McDonald.

However, field services will still be run by the sheriff’s office.

The proposed location of the new shelter is off Joiner Road. Currently there is an old barn on the property, but WCTV was told that it could be torn down in the coming days.

When WCTV last spoke with County Manager Michael Stephenson, he shared that a new shelter could be built within six months to a year.

Another free microchipping event will be held March 18 at the Thomasville Health Department, 484 Smith Avenue. Officials say all you need is a valid license or a piece of mail to prove you’re a Thomas County resident. The event will be from 10am-2pm.