Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Colbert County Animal Shelter

April 12, 1997, was a red-letter day for Colbert County. After many years of leasing a dilapidated structure from the Colbert County Humane Society, the new county animal shelter officially opened its doors. The shelter is overseen by the Colbert County Animal Control Association whose membership consists of one representative each from Sheffield, Tuscumbia, Muscle Shoals, and Colbert County.

The Colbert facility's first director was Jamiel Jordan Cantrell. By November 2000, Cantrell had been suspended and was suspected of misuse of funds that totaled almost 40K. The Association was forced to borrow 30K in order to meet the shelter's financial obligations. Cantrell and his wife Alicia Wisdom Cantrell were later arrested on theft charges unrelated to the missing shelter funds.

Two individuals applied to replace Cantrell--Tommy Morson, a former director of the Florence Animal Shelter, and Elaine Bray of Muscle Shoals, a long time shelter employee. The Association chose Bray, who was also heavily involved in animal rescue. Bray remained as director for three years, but the continual euthanasia of unwanted dogs and cats took its toll. The Colbert shelter routinely puts down as many as 400 animals per month, and Bray decided her love for the job did not outweigh the emotional hardship caused by the mass euthanasia.

In 2003, the Association hired Thomas Bruce Morson Sr. as full time director of the shelter. Morson, then 65, had resigned from his position with Florence in 1999 after 14 years on the job, but had later decided he was ill-suited for retirment.

The Animal Control Association felt lucky to have recruited Morson, who was a past president of the Alabama Humane Society, the Alabama Animal Control Association, and the Southeastern Animal Control Association. Co-workers commended Morson for taking the helm of the under-funded shelter, and complaints were few...until 2009.

To be continued...