Members of the new Chattanooga Animal Control Board met for the first time Monday night for an orientation. The members were each appointed by a City Council member in order to stagger terms in the future. Each person was appointed to initially serve either one, two or three years, with subsequent three-year terms. The introductory meeting informed the members of the purpose, duties and responsibilities that the board will have.
The nine board members are Lynn Ashton, Lacie Newton Stone, Brenda Nunn, Georgianna Yurjevic, Angelia Brewer, Tammy Stone, Mike Mallen, John Sweet and Nancy Brice. Legal counsel for the group is Chattanooga Assistant City Attorney Melinda Foster. Karen Walsh, executive director of McKamey Animal Center, will be at the meetings as an advisor.
The main purpose for establishing the board is for the city of Chattanooga to have a dedicated organization to deal with permitting issues concerning animals. It will determine what kind of permits the city should require, and will set the standards for issuing them. After these issues are decided, they will be presented to the City Council for approval before becoming an ordinance. Actual applications will be made to the Animal Control Board and they will be the body that approves and issues a permit.
McKamey Animal Center is under contract with Chattanooga and is in charge of enforcement of animal control laws, but it is separate from the city and this board. Ms. Walsh will be present at the meetings because McKamey may have to enforce some of the permits.
Regulations to deal with animals have been handled in the past by McKamey, so there is already a starting point for establishing criterion for various permits, said Ms. Foster. Examples of the types of certification that are needed include licenses for both formal and hobby breeders, for dealers, for pets to be allowed in outdoor dining establishments, for boarding kennels and for live animal performances such as the circus.
Councilwoman Pam Ladd told the new board members they should feel honored to have been asked to join. She told them that since it is new, they will have to figure out what this board does and they will get the chance to put their thumbprint on it and set the standards for how the city will meet the needs of animals.
Deputy City Attorney Phil Noblett was present to advise of the regulations required of any group representing the city whether it consists of full or part time employees or volunteers, compensated or not. He explained that meetings needed to conform to the “open meetings law” known as the “sunshine law” which requires proper notification of a meeting and insures that business is conducted in a public arena. They must also conform to the “open records law” which means all public records are open to inspection including emails as well as documents. The board also has to adhere to the “code of ethics” which provides a system of moral conduct and keeps all actions above reproach. Mr. Noblett also recommended that each member familiarize themselves with “Robert’s Rules of Order” which establishes a procedure for conducting a meeting efficiently.
Mike Mallen was elected chairman and Lacie Stone chosen to be vice-chairman of this new organization by the other board members. The first several meetings will be held on consecutive weeks until the group is organized. The first three will be on Monday, Jan.14, Wednesday, Jan. 23, and Monday, Jan. 28, from 12-2 p.m. in the City Council conference room.