Young-Williams Animal Center looks to take over animal control for Knox County | WATE 6 On Your Side

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Young-Williams Animal Center looks to take over animal control for Knox County | WATE 6 On Your Side

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Young-Williams Animal Center is looking to take over Animal Control for Knox County and the City of Knoxville. Up until now, Animal Control has been under the purview of local law enforcement. 

Many area leaders seem interested in the proposal as the resolution continues to move through city and county government meetings. 

Young-Williams Animal Center CEO Janet Testerman said they want to cut out the middleman when it comes to animal control.  

“We are looking to transition both of those units under Young-Williams Animal Center’s purview,” she explained. “Both so we can start to work towards the same goals, and for efficiency. Let our law enforcement continue to keep our communities safe, and let that be their focus, reducing crime, and as well, this is streamlining efficiencies with the shelter, resources that we’re already providing.” 

Right now, Animal Control Officers with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Knoxville Police Department respond to a call. If an animal is seized, they would drop it off at Young-Williams who would take care of it from there. The change would allow Young-Williams staff to respond directly to a situation.  

“We will have the ability and the authority to enforce local ordinances and then again, if it’s any state charge, which is at that point a criminal activity, then that’s where we would rely on law enforcement,” said Testerman.

Last year Young-Williams took in over 11,000 animals, which was a seven-year high for the shelter.  

“We are hoping to move more from ‘site and seize’ of animals to ‘educate and assist’,” said Testerman.

She added that taking over animal control will help them to directly connect with pet owners.   

“Pet owners have to be a part of the conversation. Not just the pet and so we want to work with pet owners in the field. We want to keep pets with their people and a lot of the time people just don’t know what ordinances are, they don’t know what resources exist, and so we want to be able to connect them with us just like we do with our pets for life program now,” said Testerman.

Those who are currently in positions with local law enforcement will have the opportunity to interview for the same role with Young-Williams. The resolution went through the first reading at the County Commission on Monday and passed unanimously. The City Council is set to review the change during their November 28 meeting.

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