On January 8, 2008, the Blount County Humane Society (BCHS) issued an email (shown below) to numerous individuals, media and animal welfare organizations in the area and across the state. The email was issued by Humane Society President Steve Phipps in an attempt to attack and degrade Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation (SMACF) and their efforts to raise money and assist in the construction of a new Blount County Animal Center.

In addition to the negative comments directed at SMACF, the BCHS also attacked numerous animal welfare organizations in the area that support the efforts being made in Blount County towards this new facility. Animal Rescue and Fostering Networks (ARFNets) was one of these organizations. In this email, the BCHS accuses ARFNets of abandoning their Core Beliefs by supporting the efforts that SMACF is making in Blount County.

Animal Rescue and Fostering Networks has, after lengthy discussion and approval from its members, decided to issue a public response to the unfounded, unnecessary attacks made by the BCHS towards their organization and its numerous members, volunteers and fosters. As a well-respected and established animal welfare organization in Blount County, we will simply not tolerate inaccurate, bordering on slanderous, personal attacks towards our organization.

ARFNets can only assume that the email issued by Mr. Phipps as President of the BCHS represents the beliefs of all of the members of this organization. However, if we are mistaken, ARFNets would like to take this opportunity to offer our personal apologies to those individuals within the BCHS who do not, in fact, share the sentiment of the statements made in this email.

After reading this email and the attached response made by Animal Rescue and Fostering Networks, we hope that the community will continue to support our organization and the other animal welfare organizations in our area that tirelessly work to better the lives of hundreds of animals every year.

Sincerely,

Animal Rescue and Fostering Networks

Email distributed by the Blount County Humane Society on January 8, 2008:

Blount County Humane Society
Pack E-Mail Update
Phone: 865.742.3070
Snail Mail: P.O. Box 5446, Maryville, TN 37802
E Mail: humanesocietysteve@yahoo.com
Website: (link...)
MySpace: (link...)
President/Founder: Steven Phipps
Founded June 2003

Blount County's No Kill Shelter Effort! Animal Cruelty Investigation Team
Dogs Deserve Shelter Program Spay/Neuter Alliance Program (SNAP)
Bark-N-Purr Club Rescue Rehab & Adoption Team
Recycling Saves Lives Program Friends of the Animals Team
Dedicated to helping all God's Creatures!

Sad Day for Dogs and Cats in Blount County...Today is a sad day for Dogs and Cats and the people who love them in Blount County because today (Tuesday Jan, 8th) is the day of the Official Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new Blount County Animal Center which will be located in the Eagleton Area close to the Boys Club.

I'm sure county politicians and dignitaries will be present along with the press who will be there reporting on all the new programs and equipment the new "state of the art shelter" will have to "help" animals. Of course the press will politely not mention the fact of how many dogs and cats they will kill to provide our county with "Animal Control".

People involved with the new Animal Center will be happy, smiling and celebrating while the dogs and cats in the two shelters they have chosen to emulate (Knoxville Young Williams Animal Center and Loudon Shelter) will be having their life taken from them for the sake of a human convenience to the tune of 70 to 80%.

The Blount County Humane Society has been on a mission to educate the public about this new shelter. How the purpose of animal control is to benefit people by keeping dogs and cats of the street where we don't have to deal with them. That animal control was not designed or is it used for animal welfare but was designed to get rid of a perceived problem...to get rid of the problem in the most expedient and cost effective way.

The County Government started the process to build a new Animal Control Shelter when the City of Maryville raised their price to provide this service to the county. I think some in the government are starting to realize this new project will cost them far more than the raise in price the city wanted. I would like to add that it is costing them something much more than money. Of course politicians aren't generally interested in animals or their welfare just the best way to keep their constituants happy.

An interesting fact is that the much maligned City of Maryville Shelter while providing animal control for the county had a kill rate of approx 75%. The Young Williams Animal Center which programs and policies are the model for the new Blount Shelter has a kill rate of approx 75% and it's going up not down. So the programs the new Blount Shelter will follow simply don't work except from an animal control perspective. You don't see a lot of animals roaming the streets in Knoxville because their all dead. Animal Control works... it just doesn't work for the animals.

A sad irony in this story is the way the group recruited by the County Government to raise funds for the County Kill Shelter (Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation) is going about their task. They have websites, billboards and literature filled with images of happiness and love for animals. Their website logo has a pretty little girl lovingly hugging a happy Boxer dog. They use terms like "All Access" and "No Dog or Cat will be turned away" like they are anxious to welcome all animals with open arms of care and love. To read their literature you would think all the animals they are "not turning away" are all going to wonderful homes to be looked after forever by a warm fire not taken into the back room and killed.

Many unsuspecting people in Blount County have been deceived by their warm misleading message. I talked to someone today calling in about an Animal Cruelty complaint that said "when the county gets the new no kill shelter built over by the Boys Club the animals will have a safe place to go". He was confused, felt mislead then angry when he learned the truth. Another convert to the No Kill Philosophy.

The people in this organization have lost their way and have deluded themselves into thinking they are doing a good thing for the animals. They say it is the only thing they can do and it's better for animals to die a "humane death" than to die on the streets. While they are repeating these self delusional mis directing statements to themselves and preaching these erroneous values to the public they have chosen not to embrace a way that leads to hope and not having to kill dogs and cats in immorally huge numbers.

They have adopted the attitude that anyone who believes the message of hope that can save huge numbers of animals known as the No Kill Movement is ignorant and backwards. The No Kill Philosophy has worked in other places and is in the process of becoming a reality in many others. It is promoted by the American Humane Association, Best Friends Animal Society, Alley Cat Allies an many SPCA's as well as many other reputable animal organizations. When they say they welcome the No Kill Philosophy but refuse to embrace it themselves they are being false and untruthful.

The Blount County Humane Society which is the only animal organization promoting the No Kill Philosophy in Blount County has never been invited to one of the new shelter meetings. Our views have not been represented and we have a vast impact for good to animals and are one of the largest animal organizations in Blount County. It seems if they truly want to make Blount County a better place for animals they would at least invite the only group who believes that we can achieve a no kill status in Blount County to their meetings. Don't you think?

The animal organizations that make up the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation were originally founded to preserve animal life yet they are embracing and supporting a system that brings death to millions of dogs and cats each year. ArfNet, AnimalWorks and Blount Care have abandoned their core beliefs to promote a kill shelter. Blount Care President Teresa Cutshaw and her son Jason Hinkle have even signed on as Animal Control Officers. They willingly take hundreds of animals to their death and as time goes by the number will reach into the thousands. These organizations have bought into a lie and abandoned their stated purpose of animal welfare. How they can do this is beyond my understanding as an animal lover.

On this sad day I would like everyone that is an animal lover to take a moment to remember the animals that have been killed already for the failed human program known as animal control and the thousands that are going to be killed at the new Blount County Shelter. It's easy to do...just look at your own precious dog or cat and think of them in one of the local kill shelters with only a 20 to 30% chance of making it out alive. I hope this sends a pang of emotion to your stomach at the thought of it. If it does remember how it feels and let it move you to get involved in the No Kill Philosophy. We need your help to stop the needless killing so that one day soon the new Blount County Shelter can be shut down and used for a county garage or something useful that doesn't involve killing.

As sad as this day is there is hope on the horizon. Our Humane Society by taking a No Kill stand that promotes life is thriving and growing more than ever before. Our people are second to none and truly love animals. They make sacrifices in their lives every day to help animals and expect no thanks for what they do. Our many programs like the Dogs Deserve Shelter, Spay Neuter Alliance Program, Rescue/Foster/Adoption Program, Animal Cruelty Investigations and soon to open All Creatures Thrift Store are helping animals every day and will lead us into the future. We are committed to making Blount County a truly safe place for animals and I know we are going to achieve that goal. I have always said that "Together we can make a difference" and we are seeing it happen right before our eyes as more and more people join our team. So please share this letter with your friends that love animals. The more people we have embracing the No Kill message the faster we can make it a reality. There is a road that leads to life for our dogs and cats and with your help we can find it.

Response by Animal Rescue and Fostering Networks:

Animal Rescue and Fostering Networks (ARFNets) would like to address some issues that were sent out in the latest “Pack E-Mail Update” from the Blount County Humane Society (BCHS) on January 8, 2008.

In this email, the Blount County Humane Society stated that organizations such as ARFNets, have abandoned their core beliefs by supporting Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation’s (SMACF) plans to build a new Animal Center in Blount County.

In order to address the attack on the morals and character of the individuals that make up ARFNets, we felt it necessary to write this letter to let people know that the statements made by the BCHS are inaccurate and untrue.

ARFNets was founded in 2004. We are an all-volunteer, member-run, federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. ARFNets currently has 73 active Volunteers, Members and Fosters. ARFNets has rescued, cared for, and placed hundreds of animals every year in Blount County. We spend approximately $25-30,000 every year on veterinary care for the animals that we place into permanent, loving homes. We are a transparent organization; we keep nothing behind closed doors. Our financial statements are available to anyone who would like to see them, our meetings are open to the public, and our volunteers and members are some of the most caring people in the area. We are, happily, one of the most respected animal rescue organizations in Blount County. We institute programs such as our “Friends of the Shelter” program in which Volunteers from our organization go into the Maryville Animal Shelter every day to take photos of animals in need of homes which then get published on our website and printed in the Maryville Daily Times on a daily basis in the hopes of increasing the number of animals that are adopted from the local shelter. In 2005, ARFNets placed almost 800 animals into permanent, loving homes from the Maryville Animal Shelter. We work hand-in-hand with the Loudon and Monroe County Shelters in the same capacity and allow them to post their animals on our website in order to get them more exposure for adoption.

In addition, we work closely with other, respected animal welfare organizations around Blount County, including, but not limited to: Animal Works, BlountCARE, PPAW, and Boston Terrier Rescue.

In 2006, the Blount County Commission invited all Animal Welfare and Community non-profit organizations to help them come up with a permanent solution to the problem of pet overpopulation in our community (BCHS included). SMACF was the ONLY organization that stepped up to the plate, and now it is being unjustly criticized for that plan by an individual who, when the organization was in the formation stage, expressed great interest to a Board Member of SMACF to be involved when the organization was formalized.

ARFNets will continue to support SMACF and the plans and programs for the new Blount County Animal Center. With approximately 3,400 stray, abandoned, neglected and abused animals in Blount County every year, having a facility that will address all of the stray population of Blount County and maintain a euthanasia rate of less than 20% is simply impossible. The only way that rate can be accomplished is to “limit” the number of animals that are taken in. If you combined the number of animals taken in by every rescue organization in Blount County, you still could not find suitable homes for all that need one. In addition, if the number of animals taken in to a facility is limited, animal population levels will increase due to the un-spayed and un-neutered animals still on the loose-we would NEVER be able to start getting control of pet overpopulation in our community.

ARFNets does not “embrace” euthanasia, and to make that statement is simply ridiculous and inflammatory. If this is to be said of ARFNets, then this statement would also have to be said about the Humane Society of the United States, one of the most respected Animal Welfare organizations in the world. On their website they have a page that addresses questions concerning animal shelters: ((link...)). When you go there, you will see the following article:

Why aren't all animal shelters no-kill shelters?

The HSUS believes that no-kill animal shelters can play a role in helping homeless companion animals find responsible, lifelong homes. However, since some no-kill shelters choose to limit the number of animals they accept and care for, The HSUS feels strongly that there needs to be an animal shelter in every community whose doors are open to all homeless animals. Too often, stray animals suffer from starvation, disease, poisoning, abuse, injuries from traffic accidents, attacks by wildlife, and severe weather. If not spayed or neutered, they bring more innocent animals into their world of suffering. There should be an animal shelter in every community that is able to accept these animals at all times.

Based on numerous years HSUS staff members have spent working in and running animal shelters, The HSUS believes that humane euthanasia of homeless companion animals is preferable to the poor quality of life they may endure without the companionship and care of a loving, responsible home environment. Millions of dogs and cats enter shelters every year in the United States, but according to the best estimates available, only about 50 percent (3-4 million) of these animals are adopted. Currently, it would be impossible to humanely keep all of these homeless animals in shelters.

Nobody who cares about animals wants to see them euthanized, but there is also not just “one way” to accomplish reducing the rate of euthanasia in our community as the BCHS has stated in the past. We are not saying that the BCHS is wrong in their beliefs; we are simply saying that there are other, proven options out there. Saying that a municipal shelter that adopts the programs that Blount County will have in place will not help the animals is unfortunately an inaccurate statement on the part of the BCHS. The proof that these programs are, in fact, successful in reducing the number of animals euthanized across the country each year is out there if people will simply take the time to do a little research on their own.

For example, if you visit (link...) you will read success stories around the country of shelters that have reduced their euthanasia rates by as much as 70% by introducing aggressive spay/neuter programs. We urge people to go online and do some independent research before passing judgment on people or organizations that do not necessarily follow in the footsteps of others.

So, ARFNets will continue to support the new Blount County Animal Center effort because we know that there are several different ways to help reduce the number of animals euthanized in our community-and that is our goal.

It saddens us that simply because ARFNets and the other organizations that were listed in the email released January 8, 2008 do not follow the direction BCHS is going, but rather choose to address the problems in BC from many angles as opposed to just one, our morals are being questioned. There is more than one way to address and help reduce euthanasia in our community, and there are several organizations that care deeply for the animals in our community that are doing just that.

Steve Phipps not invited?

Maybe Mr. Phipps is not invited to any meetings because of his completely neurotic, rambling, and factless messages he sends. For heaven sakes, we live in a County where your lucky if some owners give their dogs vet care, let alone never have another homeless pet euthanized. Rome was not built in a day and there are progressive cities that still have euthanazia occurring. I would prefer that no healthy dog be put down simply because it doesn't have a home, but when people toss their dog away because its an adult and they want a puppy, it is not the time to be arguing over a partially Government facility. Certain people are not looking at this as an animal shelter, educational facility, low cost spay and neutering, but as the "dog catcher" and that's all they care about. People are not going to change overnight. They need education, but cramming "KILL" down peoples throats in his e-mail propaganda is not going to change things!

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