City halts disposing deceased animals in landfill - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

City halts disposing deceased animals in landfill

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Some pet owners and veterinarians got upset with the city of Chattanooga after learning workers have been disposing of dead animals at the city landfill, instead of cremating them.

The Public Works Department says it understands their complaints, and announced it would stop, at least for now.

For decades the Chattanooga Public Works Department transported euthanized pets to the city landfill. Then when McKamey Animal Center opened in 2010, they started taking them there for cremation instead. It's what many consider a more respectful way. But, a couple of weeks ago, the city went back to the landfill practice to save money and didn't notify those involved.

"Probably the most difficult decision that a vet or a pet owner has to make," Dr. Jim Hammon said.

Dr. Jim Hammon has co-owned Northgate Animal Hospital for more than 30 years. He says putting a pet down, isn't easy and compassion is key. That's why local vets and the city made an agreement with McKamey Animal Center a few years ago, to start cremating them there, instead of the old method of putting them in the landfill.

"I think that's just the more dignified and compassionate way to take care of the pet," Dr. Hammon said.

The animal clinics pay the city about $200 every few months for the service. The city has transported around 500 pets a year to the crematorium until a few weeks ago.

"We decided operationally that we'd begin taking animals to the landfill again based on our costs and revenue," Chattanooga Public Works Deputy Administrator Justin Holland said.

Holland say the department decided it would cost less, since McKamey charged the city 90-percent of the money they got from the animal clinics. But, they didn't communicate that.

"The big thing was we were all under the impression that's what was going on, that they were going to the crematorium," Dr. Hammon said.

Local vets and pet owners were upset when our partners at the Times Free Press broke the story Thursday morning.

"We really regret not being communicable with the vet clinics," Holland said.

Now Public Works has halted the animal trips to the landfill and is going back to the cremation method for now.

"I'm proud that the Department of Public Works stepped up and is doing the right thing in getting it back to business as usual as we sit down and work out the long term," Dr. Hammon said.

Public Works officials say from now on, they will inform all stake holders of changes. They plan to sit down with McKamey and several vet clinics to figure out a better financial solution long-term.

They say many municipalities don't offer any type of transport service for deceased animals.They also dispose of road kill. Pet-owners can always bury them on their land or pay for cremation themselves.

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