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Letters to the Editor

Bookkeeping Differences

Thank you for Jesse Fox Mayshark's excellent article on the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley's ending its contracts to shelter animals collected by the city and county Animal Control officers and focusing in the future on adoptions, spay-neuter, education, and prevention of animal cruelty ["Gimme Shelter," Vol. 10, No. 29]. As president of the Humane Society, however, I think that county Finance Director Kathy Hamilton's comments in the article on use of county funding for spaying and neutering require clarification.

The reluctance of the county to support the spay-neuter program is difficult to understand. This program succeeded in reducing the numbers of unwanted animals coming into the shelter from almost 17,000 three years ago, to almost 13,000 this year. While there are no losers in spay-neuter, the city and county, which have the ultimate responsibility to deal with problems caused by animal overpopulation, are the primary beneficiaries of this success.

Three years ago, the Humane Society began a program of spaying and neutering all adopted animals before they left our custody. At that time, the number of animals coming into the shelter was at an all-time high—and growing. We believed an animal overpopulation crisis in Knox County required dramatic action.

In the first year, the Humane Society paid for the spay-neuter program totally with our own funds. We became aware in this first year that the program would have a more rapid effect on the animal population than we had anticipated. We also became aware that the program would be expensive.

The last two years, we asked the city and county together to pay for half of the spay-neuter program. Because of the importance of the program in preventing animal suffering, the Humane Society volunteered to pay for the other half from our own funding. The county issued grants for the spay-neuter program; the city approved the Humane Society budgets which included the expenses for spay-neuter.

The overall level of governmental funding to the Humane Society during these two years, however, was far below the cost of running the shelter at the standard of quality the Humane Society believes necessary. As a result, it is clear that no sheltering funds were or could have been used for spaying and neutering, as Ms. Hamilton suggests, because city and county funding did not cover the costs of the sheltering activity.

The Humane Society is proud to have helped draft and pass legislation which went into effect July 1 requiring that all animals adopted from municipal animal control in Tennessee be spayed or neutered. Whatever bookkeeping or philosophical differences the county claims it has with paying for spay-neuter, we trust that whoever shelters the county's animals after the end of 2000 will at a minimum comply with the requirements of state law.

Mark Siegel, President
The Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley

Sins of Omission

After perusing both the Summer Books Issue [Vol. 10, No. 28] and the Maryville issue [Vol. 10, No. 30, by Jack Neely], I must write and express my disappointment that none of the used bookstores located in Maryville were mentioned in either. There are in fact three used bookstores located in Maryville, including Southland Books, of which I am the manager. It is ironic that Southland Books has customers who make special trips to our store from around the country, and have customers from as far away as England and Japan due to our online business, but the Knoxville public has little opportunity to be aware of us due to Metro Pulse's omissions. This oversight would be understandable if Metro Pulse were not distributed outside of Knoxville, but it is distributed in Maryville and Oak Ridge, and bookstores from neither city were mentioned in the books issue.

In addition to the above omission, I felt that the Maryville issue was rather poor overall. The extended description of what one passes on entering Maryville was more of a space filler than anything else. No mention was made of the many musical instrument stores, antique shops, The Bard coffeehouse, the new bandstand being built in Greenbelt Park, Little River Trading Co., or even Pope's, which is one of the biggest garden centers in the area. Instead, we get yet more about the Palace Theater, and Ruby Tuesday's corporate center, which really doesn't affect the local population. The article would also have been more interesting if you had written about the not-so-pretty stuff, such as the de facto segregation which results in most blacks living in Alcoa rather than Maryville, and last year's controversy over Confederate flags and songs at Maryville High School football games. Perhaps if you had found someone in Maryville to write the article or tried to contact a resident for input it would have proved more interesting.

Stephanie Lilly

Ed. Note: Ms. Lilly is Metro Pulse's distributor.