Volunteer group may provide outlet for animal lovers

John Thompson • Feb 28, 2017 at 9:13 PM

ELIZABETHTON — One of the hottest controversies in Carter County in the past few months has been the removal of volunteers from donating time and labor to the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter. A new initiative by the volunteers may provide a solution to the controversy.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Carter County Animal Shelter Advisory Board, volunteer Robin McKamey announced that a new organization has been created, Appalachian Tails, to provide an outlet for all the volunteers who are seeking a way to help homeless animals.

“We have people who want to volunteer ... it is all about the animals,” McKamey told the board.

There is also a more established regional group, Asheville, N.C.-based Brother Wolf, that Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey said is also seeking to establish in the county and provide an outlet for volunteer help.

McKamey and her group said Brother Wolf was a good organization, but its method of operation will take time to get established in the county. She said Appalachian Tails could provide at least an interim solution.

One avenue for volunteers that won’t be immediately available to volunteers is the animal shelter, which is operated jointly by Carter County and the city of Elizabethton. Humphrey said volunteers will not be accepted in the shelter until the results of an audit by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has been released.

Mike Barnett, chairman of the advisory board and of the Friends of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter, two organizations include some of the same people, said it would be possible for the Friends to accept Appalachian Tails as a subgroup. He said that would allow the Appalachian Tails to accept contributions under the Friends’ tax exemption.

Board member Bekah Price added that Appalachian Tails would be endorsed by the Friends, but the shelter would not be endorsing the organization. Barnett said the volunteers could not take animals from the shelter to care for because those animals were considered county property. The group could accept animals that had not been taken to the shelter.

In other matters, Humphrey said he is requesting a large increase in county funding for the shelter next fiscal year. His request to the County Commission’s Budget Committee will be $404,476. That is a $195,556 increase over the original 2016-17 budget of $208,919.

In one financial matter voted on Tuesday night, the Friends voted to provide $2,500 for the spaying and neutering of a feral cat colony of 80 to 100 members. The measure passed unanimously.

Following the vote, two members had to leave early. Humphrey and Bob White had to leave before the Friends could vote on whether or not to accept Appalachian Tails as a subgroup. As a result of their departure, there was no longer a quorom to vote on the matter, but the organization was encouraged to move forward with its organizational efforts. All of the remaining members of the Friends said they were in favor of including the volunteers as a subgroup.

McKamey said anyone wishing to be a volunteer for Appalachian Tails may call her at 957-0243 or email robinmckamey@hotmail.com.

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