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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

Worth Watching — Savannah, TN

[NOTE: The Worth Watching category lists communities whose animal shelter systems are doing substantially better than average, but have not reported a sustained (for one year or more) 90%+ live release rate. These communities are not counted in the running total in the blog’s subtitle. For more about the Worth Watching category, see the Worth Watching page link in the blog’s header.]

Savannah is a small town of about 7,000 people located in a rural area in the western part of Tennessee. It is the county seat of Hardin County, which has a population of about 46,000 people. Animal control and sheltering for Savannah has been provided by Savannah Animal Services, a municipal department run by the town. An article in the Jackson Sun that is no longer available online reported that from November 1, 2011 to November 1, 2012 the shelter took in 657 animals and euthanized 29 of them. The live release rate calculated on this limited data is 96%.

I spoke to the shelter’s director, Charlie Nickle, about the shelter’s history. Nickle told me that when he was appointed director of the shelter about four years ago he immediately began working to improve the live release rate because he believed that the pets who came into the shelter had a right to live. Nickle said that the shelter accepts owner surrenders from people who live in the city, and the only conditions are a photo ID to prove residence and a $10 fee.

Nickle said that in the past they were not able to adopt out many animals locally and their primary means of placing animals was by transport to approved rescues all over the United States. In 2012 the shelter moved into a new building which is much more conducive to adoptions, and the shelter had 10 local adoptions in its first week. Nickle said that they do not have a TNR program because there are no feral cat colonies in the city, and all the cats they take in are domesticated.

I’ve placed this shelter in the Worth Watching category instead of listing it in the right sidebar because Hardin County has purchased the new shelter building and equipment in order to unify operations with the city of Savannah. Nickle has stated that the euthanasia rate may rise with the influx of animals from the county.

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