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Members of the Animal Shelter Coalition help to take down all 714 sticky notes, each one bearing the name of a dog adopted or sent to a rescue in 2019.

The hunt to find a new home for the county animal shelter continues with Tullahoma being a possible choice.

Coffee County Animal Control (CCAC) met with members of the Animal Shelter Coalition recently to provide updates on finding a new facility and their end of year numbers for 2019.

Starting off with the financial update, between October and December, the coalition’s balance nearly doubled, starting with $6,508.87 and going up to $10,137.30. The fund is to help construct a new building for CCAC.

The meeting then moved on to discuss the status of a new, temporary facility for animal control.

County Commissioner Margaret Cunningham said members of the commission and Capital Outlay found a building in the Goose Pond area in Manchester in December. According to Cunningham, the building was donated to the county in perpetuity, otherwise it would have been sold. Cunningham said since the building is not being used there’s momentum within the commission and the mayor’s office to use the building as a first step to get a better shelter for the animals. 

“There is momentum moving. This may not be perfect but we have momentum within the commission to move on to try and get out of the city,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham says they will need to draw up a plan because the building is “not very big”, between 500 – 800 sq. ft., and there is only an acre of land. The building will be more like office space while a kennel is built for the animals.

  “It gets us out of the city (Manchester), which is the main thing because we can’t get any volunteers there. We argue with the city half of the time, more than half of the time about [volunteers]. So, it’s just a way to get out of the city and start a shelter on our own,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham emphasized that everyone will still need to help out and think about reaching out to anyone who can help in donating supplies.

“That means that we all to need to pitch in, knock on our friends’ door that maybe have group resources to donate concrete, building supplies and metal,” said Cunningham.

One of the members said they heard that the commission was in discussion of moving CCAC to a facility in Tullahoma, where they would have a larger space, temporarily, and be able to go immediately.  CCAC Supervisor Samantha Szelich said it was discussed but they haven’t heard back from Tullahoma officials. 

Szelich said she and CCAC Officer Karen Clark had a meeting with Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell the previous day about the building in Goose Pond and he didn’t like it due to how far out it is from the city. 

“He said no, like maybe as a last option-resort but he doesn’t want us to move that far out. Which wasn’t 100% us saying that he doesn’t want us to move that far out,” said Szelich.

Szelich said Cordell is active in helping to find a building for CCAC and calls them every couple of days to check in and give updates about any progress in finding a new building.

Clark said what scared them about moving to Goose Pond is a possible increase of people tying their dogs to the fence and leaving them. “In rural areas, it’s gonna be even worse I think because it’ll start to be a dumping ground. That’s the only thing that scares me is not being able to keep them safe if they start dumping,” said Clark.

When asked what the difference between having a facility in Tullahoma than Manchester, Szelich said having volunteers and personnel was the main issue. “That was a big thing, and they also have a part-time person that stays there and cleans and stays there which would be nice.  That’s what we talked about using the resources together,” said Szelich.

It was discussed how Tullahoma citizens would react to them, representing the whole county, moving to a building that they, the citizens of Tullahoma, paid for in their taxes due to differences between the two cities. Dr. Jeff Keele of All Creatures Veterinary said it would be beneficial for CCAC to go to the Tullahoma facility as it will save money in the long run.

“If you can rent a spot from them, nobody in Tullahoma is gonna be upset when they find out Coffee County is paying. It also solves a lot of problems. It keeps us from having to put money, which we already limited financial resources, towards a building in Goose Pond that you’re going to use for a while and walk away from,” said Keele.

After discussing the facility, Szelich and Clark went over how many dogs were saved during the year of 2019. To illustrate how many they saved, they covered the wall with Post-It notes with the name of each of the 714 dogs that were adopted or sent to rescue.

According to Szelich, 62 were adopted, 652 were sent to rescue, 63 were reclaimed and 21 were euthanized, four were sick, and there are currently nine dogs from 2019 at the shelter. In total, that would be 807 dogs they rescued in 2019. It was to show to everyone why CCAC needs a new facility and why Szelich and Clark cannot answer the phone at times. They received a round of applause from committee members for their work.

They plan on doing a similar presentation for the March commission meeting as well as present a video to the commission, talking about what they do and why they need a new shelter. They said a videographer is helping with the video and showed a nine minute demo to the committee and it was well received. 

The Animal Shelter Coalition meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Coffee County Administrative Plaza, at 5:30 p.m. and encourages everyone who wants to help to come.

 Anyone interested in donating and wanting to know more about CCAC can go to, follow them on Facebook at Coffee County Animal Control or call (931) 703-3215. CCAC are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kyle Murphy may be reached at

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