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SCAA Seeks County Support

Second Chance Animal Alliance volunteers Mandy Beard (left) and Bittany Scero attended the March 6 city board meeting in Water Valley to provide additional details for a new contract the organization is working on with city officials.

WATER VALLEY – Volunteers with the Second Chance Animal Alliance (SCAA) appear to be inching toward inking a new contract with the City of Water Valley and negotiating a contract with the county to help the organization provide for animals under their care.

SCAA, a donor supported, non-profit organization, was founded in 2014 with a primary goal to improve conditions in the City of Water Valley’s dog pound and has been funded by the city since 2015. In addition to city support, SCAA is funded with donations and fundraisers. Volunteers with SCAA also regularly respond to animal complaints in the county, typically assisting the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department when requested.

City support for SCAA has included a $30 payment for each dog picked up in the city (not to exceed 100 per year), plus payment for utilities for the SCAA owned shelter on Hwy. 315 and the smaller city-owned shelter also utilized by the organization. The city has also provided a part-time city employee to assist at the shelters. 

SCAA has reached out to the county multiple times for support and supervisors indicated at last week’s county meeting they are in favor of signing a contract with the organization once the details are worked out. 

At the March 5 supervisor meeting SCAA volunteer Mandy Beard explained that the organization needs financial support from the county, including funding for an employee. Beard also noted that SCAA is housing 28 dogs, 20 in their new animal shelter on Hwy. 315, west of Water Valley, and eight in the old city pound. Beard also said eight of the 28 dogs were picked up in the county.

Board President Cayce Washington stressed that defining the expectations from both parties is the first step. 

“I understand y’all run a little unique than others, you really don’t believe in euthanizing so you try to foster and nurse back to health. I agree with a lot of that but at the same time I don’t know that the county can incur a lot of vet bills,” Washington noted. 

“We don’t expect you to,” Beard answered about the vet bills.

Questions at the county meeting also focused on whether the county would provide an employee or contract with SCAA so the employee could work directly for the organization and the sentiment seemed to be for the latter option. 

Sheriff Lance Humphreys also expressed gratitude during the meeting for the support SCAA currently provides in the county.

“In the last four or five months we have worked with them and they have saved us, they really have,” Humphreys explained, adding the volunteers typically respond within an hour when the county law enforcement have an animal complaint.

“I believe in the organization. I applaud what they are doing.  I think that there should be some sort of responsibility on the part of the county to help. There is no question that y’all have done exactly what the sheriff has said,” Washington agreed.

“We just need to understand to what we are committing to and what we are going to get in return for the commitment,” Washington added.

Although the discussion briefly strayed into picking up loose dogs in the county, the county does not have an at-large ordinance and the calls SCAA would respond to would likely be neglect cases. An agreement with the county could also specify the organization’s role in responding to complaints about vicious dogs, which are regulated by a county ordinance.

City Discussion

Beard and other SCAA volunteers have also made three trips to the city meeting in recent weeks, Feb. 6, Feb. 20 and again on March 6, to discuss details for a new contract with the city.

At the first meeting, Beard and SCAA Director Melissa Smith explained to aldermen that the SCAA contract with the city expired in 2016. They also requested more financial support from the city to help with the staggering cost of caring for animals at the shelter.

Among specific details expected to be addressed in a new contract are documenting the origin of dogs picked up by SCAA.

“We need a way of documenting every dog that is a city dog… so we will know we are responsible for this animal,” Mayor Donald Gray explained. 

Alderman-at-large Kagan Coughlin also noted the city needs to have a protocol for how the police department handles complaint calls and defining SCAA’s role in that process. 

“The city has a specific responsibility to pick up stray dogs and, for a certain period of time, take care of them and give them the opportunity to be adopted,” Coughlin said, before adding that it is not in the city’s purview to provide forever care for dogs.

Coughlin added that details in the new contract should include an agreement for city support to Second Chance for care provided for an animal picked up in the city for a defined period of time before the long-term expense of caring for an animal would transition entirely to SCAA. 

After the March 6 discussion city officials finalized details for a new contract that will be presented to SCAA volunteers.

Second Chance Animal Alliance volunteers Mandy Beard (left) and Bittany Scero  attended the March 6 city board meeting in Water Valley to provide additional details for a new contract the organization is working on with city officials.

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