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Inter-local agreement approved with county for rabies control

By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted a resolution this week that approves an inter-local agreement with Shelby County for rabies control services.
Board members took the action Monday night during a special called meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Thomas McGhee and seconded by Alderman Chris Ford. The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with Aldermen Larry Dagen and Frankie Dakin absent.
The resolution states that, through the Shelby County Health Department, the county government operates Vector Control Services, which includes rabies control. And Millington has used those services “when necessary.”
But the resolution acknowledges that Millington and the county have “cooperated” in rabies control services for “numerous” years without a written agreement. It states that the city and county governments have determined that providing such services “across jurisdictional lines” increases their ability to preserve the health, safety and welfare of residents and animals in the entire area.
While noting that it is in the interest of both parties to “document” their relationship, the resolution states that the agreement is made at no cost to Millington.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Alderman Mike Caruthers asked how the agreement will work if someone finds a dog “out wandering around.” Interim City Manager Mike Chesney said there are “two points” to it.
When Millington residents see a stray dog, he said, they will call the Shelby County Animal Control Office. Employees of the office will then come out and pick up the animal.
But if there is a dog bite or a problem with a vicious animal, Chesney said Millington police officers will investigate it and fill out the paperwork. Then, they will call the county to come pick up the animal.
“If it takes a little bit too long for them to come,” he noted, “at that point, our officers will take the animal down to our pen and hold it until they come.”
Then, Chesney said, Millington Sanitation Supervisor Rodney Stanback will make arrangements for the county to come and get the animal.
“Rodney was picking up and trapping the animals,” he said. “And sometimes, our police officers had to get involved too much into it, too.”
Chesney said the inter-local agreement will keep Millington police officers on the street protecting the city’s residents, while the county’s Animal Control employees take care of the problem.
Caruthers said he wants to make sure the process is in place, and Millington residents know what to do.
After the agreement is executed, Chesney said, he will make sure the women who work at the front desk in City Hall know the telephone numbers to call or to tell residents to call.
“We’ll have a process in place,” he said. “We’ll put it on the Web site and have a launch date, but it’s probably going to be another 30 days before we can.”
District 4 Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland, who attended the meeting, said the county commission is attempting to pass an animal control ordinance. Although the county already has a similar ordinance, he said the new one would be “a lot different.”
When the commission passes an ordinance, Roland said, it normally applies only to the county’s unincorporated areas. But by approving the inter-local agreement, Millington will come under the jurisdiction of the new ordinance.
“I have beaten that dog ordinance back for the last three years,” Roland told the board members. “But it’s getting to a point now where it’s probably going to pass. I thought I’d be derelict in my duty if I didn’t make you aware of that.”
When Caruthers asked what the new ordinance will “do” to Millington that “has not already been done,” Roland said it will basically be “stricter.”
City Attorney Charles Perkins noted that state law requires counties to perform animal control services through their health departments.
But Roland said the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and Health Department are helping him “draft” legislation to submit to the Tennessee General Assembly that will make the law “more strenuous” at the state level.
“That way, it’s better than making a county ordinance,” he concluded. “I think we can get more mileage out of that, and it’ll affect everybody the same.”

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