PELL CITY - Citizens with complaints about operation of the Animal Shelter of Pell City can make those complaints online, the chairman of the Animal Shelter Task Force said.
“The complaint form is on the Pell City website now,” said Bill Hereford, chairman of the Animal Shelter Task Force committee.
He said the public can access the complaint form by going to the city’s website at epell.net.
“You can fill it out on the website, or print it out and take the completed form by City Hall,” Hereford said at the Animal Shelter Task Force meeting Thursday night.
He said the complaint should be specific and detailed, and must only deal with the operation of the Animal Shelter of Pell City.
He also spoke about the process through which the committee will intervene in a dispute between the Animal Shelter of Pell City Inc. and the public.
Hereford said once the city receives a complaint, the complaint will be forwarded to committee members and the president of ASPCI.
“The president will contact the person about the complaint and see if it can be resolved,” he said. “If the shelter or person making the complaint is not satisfied and can’t work the problem out, they will notify us and we’ll set a hearing.”
The complaint form includes the name and street address of the complainant and the actual complaint. The complainant should also provide a telephone number and email address.
Hereford said the complainant should include the date of the occurrence which sparked the complaint, if possible.
He said at least four of the seven committee members, a quorum, must be present for a hearing. He said at least one of the three veterinarians who serve on the committee must be present at the hearing.
Hereford said if he is not present at a committee meeting or hearing, committee member Kenneth McMillan will preside as the chairman.
During a hearing, the complainant will tell the committee about their complaint and the committee can ask questions of both the complainant and of shelter representatives.
After the complainant addresses the committee, the ASPCI representative will respond.
“After we hear from both sides, we will try to mediate the matter,” Hereford said.
He said if the committee cannot successfully mediate the matter, the committee will inform the mayor and council of the complaint.
Hereford said the committee will seek peaceful resolutions which will benefit the animals at the shelter.
Mayor Joe Funderburg thanked the committee for their willingness to serve.
“I appreciate the effort of everybody on this committee,” he said.
Members of the committee include Hereford, McMillan, Dr. Galen Sims, Dr. Larry Chasteen, Sylvia Martin and council members Sharon Thomas and Terry Templin.
The committee was formed by the City Council after the city received numerous complaints from citizens about shelter operations.
In recent months, the city and ASPCI have been at odds with one another. Last year ASPCI officials threatened to pull the plug on operations and vacate the city’s facility, while city officials threatened to take over the shelter operations unless the ASPCI adhered to certain city demands.
City officials said the problems center around a lack of communication between ASPCI and the city and the public.
“Communication has been the main problem,” Councilman Jay Jenkins said Thursday.
In an effort to be more open with the public, ASPCI officials announced that the non-profit corporation is holding a special question-and-answer meeting Monday at 6 p.m. in the Pell City Civic Center.