For the first time in seven years the Hamilton County Commission approved increased funding for the Humane Educational Society. The non-profit provides animal services to the county but its director says the organization has been underfunded for way too long.

The Humane Educational Society operates on a $395,000 budget. This year it asked commissioners to approve a 57 percent increase in funding for building repairs and to keep up with the cost of doing business.

The request was granted but not without tension.

"We're financing your request 100 percent and you have the largest, by percentage, increase anywhere in the county," said Commissioner Tim Boyd, District 8.

As support grew for the Humane Educational Society of Hamilton County to receive an additional $226,000 this year, so did rumors that the county commission might not approve the increase which didn't sit well with some commissioners.

"We have got bombarded with very insulting emails from people supporting the Humane Society and I don't like that," said Boyd.

 "Are we going to put animals before we put people? That's all I want to know," said Commissioner Warren Mackey, District 4.

Commissioner Joe Graham questioned where the extra money will be going, saying the shelter only provided "a generic list" and also the fact HES hired a PR firm to help with the increased funding campaign.

"You couldn't use that money to repair the mold or fix the roof or fix the sewer line?" asked Graham.

"When a donor gives us money this is what they wanted it to go to," said Robert Citrullo, Executive Director for HES.

 "We've always been transparent," he said. "We've always audited our financials every year."

Citrullo says he understands the tough questions.

"They have a responsibility to their constituents to make sure that they're accountable to where the money is going."

He says the additional funds will help improve the condition of the more than 70-year-old facility as well as the well-being of the animals.

"We're very thankful, obviously for receiving the funding for something that was long overdue," said Citrullo. 

Up until now, the shelter had been operating on a $3.82 per capita.

"We've gone to $6 per capita. The national average is $8 per capita. So we've not reached the level that is nationally accepted for these type of services. But this is an awesome step in the right direction," he said.

By comparison to HES's new $621,000 budget, the McKamey Center receives $1.6 million or $9.29 per capita to meet local needs within the city of Chattanooga.

Citrullo says he plans on submitted a more detailed, itemized list of where the additional money is going to the commission.