Danger ahead for animal rescue

County move may jeopardize New Leash on Life
Oct 19, 2013


Wilson County commissioners will vote Monday on a proposed resolution that could jeopardize the locally based organization, New Leash on Life.

Commissioners will decide whether to stop collecting the $2 Domestic Animal Tax, a major revenue source for New Lease on Life.

“It would affect us pretty heartily,” said Amy Haverstick, executive director of New Leash on Life. “It would mean a loss of about $35,000 [per year], which is a pretty hefty chunk of our budget.”

She said the revenue lost would equate to two full-time kennel staff positions. There are currently four full-time and one part-time kennel staffers.

“We fight to keep the doors open every month; we’re in a deficit every month,” said Haverstick.

She said no one from the county notified her organization of the planned changes, which she learned about in the newspaper.

“It’s hard to understand not even being consulted on this or notified on this when it affects our budget like it does and when it’s plainly stated in the act that the money goes to us,” said Haverstick.

The act names the Humane Association of Wilson County, which despite the organization’s new moniker – New Leash on Life – is actually still its legal name.

“We have a DBA – Doing Business As – that we filed with the state,” said Haverstick. “It’s sort of a branding thing.”

She said the organization still files its taxes under the original name.

The Domestic Animal Tax dates back to a 1980 referendum passed by county voters for the organization’s use in “animal control.” At the time, the county did not operate an animal control department.

In 2003, though, the county began operating an animal control department.

The proposed resolution will be considered in tandem with another resolution that would levy a $5 domestic animal fee due when pet owners obtain vaccinations for their animals.

Of that fee, 5 percent would go to the county clerk’s office for processing costs and the remainder would go to an operating fund for the county’s animal control department.

Joy Bishop, a former county commissioner, voiced her opposition to the proposal recently.

“I have nothing but respect for Wilson County Animal Control and the employees are great. I admire Mayor Hutto for creating such a good department, but we just cannot exchange our democratic process for funds for a county department,” said Bishop in a letter to The Democrat. “Also, I simply cannot understand how the modest amount of money voted for New Leash on Life could make a difference in the county’s multi-million-dollar budget.”

She suggested commissioners instead consider including $2 for New Leash on Life in the $5 fee.

“This would not compromise principles but would be an agreement from two entities which both service the citizens of Wilson County well,” said Bishop.

Haverstick noted that New Leash on Life provides services to county residents that animal control does not.

“We take in owner surrenders from the citizens of Wilson County. Animal control does not,” said Haverstick. “You cannot just go to animal control and say, ‘I can’t take care of this animal anymore.’”

Additionally, New Leash on Life takes in and adopts out cats and kittens. Haverstick said that although animal control occasionally ends up with cats, it’s not part of the department’s standard procedures.

“It’s not in any of the animal control ordinances,” said Haverstick. “If you have a cat issue, you can’t call animal control to take care of it.”

The organization also offers low-cost spaying and neutering, as well as a mobile clinic.

“We adopt out between 600 and 800 animals a year,” said Haverstick. “If we weren’t here, what would happen to those animals?”



unless the county has another enity that can take care of 600 to 800 dogs and cats,takes care of the feral cat population,provides low cost spay and neuter,and has a place that can adopt out hundreds of animals a year,they had better let new leash on life stay in bussiness.if this vote goes bad it will cost the county a lot more than $35,000 a year.i dont want to live in a county that is anti-animal friendly.for goodness sakes county politicians,do what is right and what should be a no brainer and allow new leash on life to keep its doors open.it is the only sensible thing to do.


Yeah...If you think the coyotes are bad, just wait until you get a pack of dogs on the run!


New Leash on Life has cared for the wellbeing of dogs and cats for decades. When the county failed to step up and do what was right, there was New Leash on Life (HWAC), doing the work to care for those who cannot care for themselves. The pet tax was voted in by the people to support this organization which is the only group being proactive through PREVENTATIVE. To overturn this referendum to shore up the county budget is plain wrong. The solution is not to take resources away from HAWC (New Leash on Life) but to find the money in the country budget to support the work of the country animal control.


Wilson country should be very proud of their current support for New Leash on Life. NLOL is a wonderful organization that provides low cost spay/neuter services that prevent the birth of thousands of additional unwanted animals. They also place hundreds of unwanted animals into new homes each year. Wilson County - continue to honor the 1980 referendum passed BY VOTERS for use of animal control. New Leash on Life provides animal control in a humane and cost effective manner for Wilson and surrounding counties.


I am on the Wilson County Animal Control Committee, and I'm planning on going to the Wilson County Commissioners meeting tonight to see the vote on changing the county "pet tax." There have been several stories in the news in the last few days about this, and I wanted to give a little history on why we are recommending the changes. When the "pet tax" was implemented in the early 1980's, there was no county animal control service in Wilson County. The Wilson County Humane Association was the only rescue agency and the only group doing animal control for the county. The pet tax was designated to be used "for the purpose of animal control." Since that time, WCHA has become New Leash on Life. There are now 3 Animal Control agencies in Wilson County -- WCAC, Mt Juliet AC, and Lebanon AC -- as well as numerous animal rescue groups providing similar services to NLOL.

Wilson County AC currently has a budget of just under $190,000, and has been operating under that budget for the last 3 years. They are covering 580 sq. mi. in the county with a total of 3 employees. With that money, they are covering from Rutherford County line to Sumner/Trousdale County line, and from DeKalb/Smith County lines to Davidson County. They also have to do all the cleaning of the shelter runs and caretaking of the animals in addition to making calls regarding strays, dog bites, and animal abuse allegations. They are doing a fabulous job with the resources they have. They do adopt animals out, with a fee of $25, and the new owner is responsible for all spay/neuter and rabies vaccination. They do not charge a fee to take animals in, and they take in sick and injured animals as well as those that are healthy and adoptable.

New Leash on Life states the following on their web page: "Please note new intake fees: $30 per cat & $40 per dog (to be collected at the time your pet is relinquished to New Leash on Life). Donations above the stated fee are greatly needed and most appreciated. New Leash on Life is a non-profit, receives no government funding and relies on donations.

"A $75 intake fee is collected for litters of puppies or kittens (the mother must be spayed and proof provided to staff at New Leash on Life).
Pets are accepted on a space available basis only (as determined by staff).
You will be called to bring your pet to the adoption center once staff determines that your pet can be accommodated (determinants might include: size, breed, age, temperament, coat color, etc.).
We cannot accept aggressive, ill, injured, feral, or pets who are over 6 years old."

According to NLOL web page, they state they do not receive any government funds, yet they are receiving approximately $35K in Wilson County taxpayer funds through the county pet tax paid at the time you have your dog or cat vaccinated. You can also see that they charge a significant intake fee, and an adoption fee that is 3 TIMES the fee charged by county animal control. They do not take animals over 6 years old, and do not take feral, aggressive, injured, or ill animals, all of which are taken in by WCAC.

The Animal Control committee simply feels that taxpayer dollars should FIRST be going to county services. Please also note that the $2 fee was set back in the early 1980's, and has not been adjusted in all that time. The proposed $5 fee is more in line with what current agencies are charging, and will help provide needed staffing and equipment to enable the county to more effectively and efficiently provide animal control services.

Would love to hear your thoughts, and am so glad we have a great group of caring people who are providing animal control services for the people and pets of Wilson County.




If the vote was taken as it is presented here, the Commision should either present another resoloution to the voters allowing them to vote for or against the change or they should leave the $2 alone and if they need the $5, pass it as additional.


There will be 2 votes tonight. One is to repeal the original pet tax, and the second is to implement the new fee. This has all been reviewed by the state attorney general.


Totally agree with "nmandrews", Animal Control should receive the money for it's intended use. NLOL is wonderful, but refuse a lot of animals. Lots of people can't afford to adopt from them. If you're turning in purebreds, they'll jump on them. Mutts, not so fast. Someone has to take in and help these animals. Animal Control does a wonderful job of helping ALL Wilson County Pets, not just ones they can make the most money with. Sorry, my rant for the day :)


I agree with thearn2183....put it before the people if there are changes to be made!


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