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Aldermen to discuss animal shelter contracts today in recessed meeting

The Oxford Board of Aldermen has announced a recessed meeting set for this afternoon at 1 p.m., during which a request for proposal for animal control and shelter services for the city will be discussed.

In the week since the board of directors for the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society announced its intent to let its management agreement with the City of Oxford expire on Sept. 30, there has been much speculation in the LOU community regarding the future of the animal shelter.

Citing overpopulation as one of the main reasons for their decision, OLHS said a letter addressed to the board of aldermen that they have a new goal to make a “long-lasting impact” on the number of animals in the area.

“Continuing to operate as we are currently, we cannot advance that goal,” the letter read.

Ward 3 Alderman Janice Antonow revealed last week that the OLHS board of directors have begun making plans for a free or low-cost spay and neuter service.

The meeting will only involve discussion about the RFP, a draft which the Aldermen received on Monday, Anotonow said.

Antonow said both she and Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill had received calls from interested parties about the shelter, but stressed that no decision would be made until after the RFP is released and bids are accepted.

“Some people who are calling are under the misconception that we’re just looking for somebody to manage the animal shelter,” Antonow said. “But no, it’s the whole deal. It’s animal control, accepting animals from Oxford and Lafayette County. A lot goes into it. It’s not just sitting at a desk and managing a shelter.”

The first hurdle will come on Oct. 1, when OLHS will officially vacate the premises and the City will begin maintenance work on the building.

The closure could last as long as two months, during which time workers will replace all ceiling tiles and insulation due to a rodent problem, paint walls and possibly complete an unfinished room, Antonow said.

During this closure, Antonow said the City is hoping local organizations will be willing to accept animals collected by its animal control officer.

Antonow said overpopulation is a real problem, and those who do take in animals starting on Oct. 1 will be reimbursed by the City.

Any animals not adopted out by Sept. 30 will be taken in by the new shelter administration, Antonow said.

As far as the animals currently housed in the shelter are concerned, OLHS has seen an uptick in adoptions. Twenty pets found their forever homes on Aug. 11, and it was announced that another seven were adopted out on Monday.

“We are working hard to find homes for all of the animals at OLHS, and pursuing any and all alternatives,” OLHS board member Lee Habeeb told the EAGLE. “We would urge anyone interested in adopting a pet to come on in and help us in the effort.”

According to Habeeb, the shelter will be continuing accepting animals “per our Oxford City contract.”

While many LOU residents and pet parents who rescued animals from OLHS have taken to social media to voice their concerns, Antonow said there was one misconception she’d like to clear up: the City is not forcing OLHS to leave the shelter.

“The city did not tell Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society they had to leave. This was nothing to do with the city,” Antonow said. “They did not do anything to breach their contract. They were doing fine as far as being transparent in all the things we asked them to do. This was their choice, and I’m sure it was a hard decision.”