Sevier County and city leaders to vote on funding new animal shelter at fairgrounds

The Sevier Animal Care Center hopes the new center will be able to open by the middle of 2022 if the funding is approved.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — Sevier County and city leaders are poised to vote Monday on funding a new animal shelter after nearly three years of operating out of a temporary location.

The new shelter would be located at the Sevier County Fairgrounds. Since summer of 2018, the shelter has been located at a garage off Dolly Parton Parkway, which has been used to hold lost pets and adopt stray animals. The new facility would be twice the size of the garage.

The shelter, Sevier Animal Care Center, is a non-profit controlled by the county, Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. In order for the funding measure to pass, everyone would need to agree to the final plan.

Ashley Thomas, director of the Sevier Animal Care Center, said they are unique in that they not only serve locals, but tourists as well. Some people travel from out of town to adopt, and tourists have often lost pets during vacations.  

She hopes the new center will be able to open by the middle of 2022.

“It’s a place of hope now, it’s a place to complete your family and to have a facility that will reflect that, and give us the room and the tools we need to improve on what we are already doing. It means the world and I think it will mean the world to the community,” she said.

The push to build a new shelter comes during more than half a decade of battling over government funding for a local animal shelter.

The Sevier County Humane Society, which formerly was the primary animal shelter, stopped accepting animals from animal control in mid-2017 after it could not work out funding disputes between its board of directors and the local governments.

The county and cities had sought to gain a controlling vote on the board of directors, which the board declined — leaving the county without a primary intake center.  Since then, it has operated as more of a traditional humane society.

Another organization, Pets Without Parents, stepped into that role for roughly a year before it suddenly announced it would cease all operations in July 2018. Following the announcement, the cities and county agreed to operate a temporary animal shelter until it could find a “permanent solution.” Since then, Sevier Animal Care Center has taken in pets, handled adoptions, and reunited owners with lost animals. 

In 2020, the shelter adopted out 1,291 animals. To learn more about the Sevier Animal Care Center, visit its website here.

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