Our Municipal Animal Shelter: Huntsville Animal Services
Huntsville Animal Services is the municipal animal shelter which is located at 4950 Triana Boulevard SW in Huntsville. It is a city department which provides public services for both the City of Huntsville and for Madison County (with the exception of the City of Madison). In that regard, it is no different than the police, fire, parks and recreation and public services departments. The shelter is an open intake, managed admission facility. This means that the shelter does take owned animals (which it is not obligated to take) on a manged basis in order to mange the number of animals in the facility at any given time.
The focus of our coalition has been the municipal shelter (as opposed to non-profit shelters) for three reasons: money, actions and accountability.
Money. We pay for our shelter with our tax dollars. The annual budget for the most recent fiscal year is not quite 1.8 million dollars. Of that amount, 1.5 million is for personnel. The remaining budget is for operating costs like vehicles, gas, oil, etc. The budget for "food and care of animals" is $57,000 (about the same amount budgeted for gas and oil). In addition to this money, Madison County pays a per animal/per day fee for "county" animals who end up in the shelter. Although the fees paid by the county have continued to decline year after year, the county paid the city over $100,000 in the last fiscal year.
Actions. The municipal shelter is the location where healthy and treatable animals have traditionally been destroyed using our money. The municipal shelter takes a variety of animals which include those caught running at large to those seized in law enforcement operations. The shelter sometimes takes owner surrendered animals but does not always take them.
Accountability. Because it is a public department funded by tax dollars, the municipal shelter is accountable not only to local officials but also to the public. City officials have known about no kill programs and contacts for more than seven years. In the years since these programs have been known to officials, thousands of healthy and treatable animals have been destroyed using our money. It is our position that each needless death is failure of the system.