Dalton City Council donates property to Humane Society of Northwest Georgia

·3 min read

Jul. 29—The Humane Society of Northwest Georgia gained more control of its future recently when the Dalton City Council agreed to donate the three-acre property at 1210 Veterans Drive that the organization's facility is on to the Humane Society.

The Humane Society had signed a 40-year, $1-a-year lease on the property about 10 years ago. It broke ground on a $1.5 million, 12,000-square-foot facility in 2017 and opened it a little more than a year later. The organization, which has been in Whitfield County for more than 40 years, had previously leased a site on Cleveland Highway.

"We just felt that we owed it to those who donated that money to us (for the facility) to really own the site we are located on, not just lease it," said Greg Kinnamon, a board member of and attorney for the Humane Society.

Kinnamon said the Humane Society proposed a land swap, trading another piece of property the group owns for the site its facility is on. But he said city officials weren't interested in that property. City officials then started looking at donating the land to the organization.

City Administrator Andrew Parker said one hurdle was that the city couldn't legally do that "unless they provide some sort of benefit to the city."

The City Council members asked City Attorney Terry Miller to look into the issue and he found the Humane Society does provide a quantifiable benefit to the city.

"Over the last few years, on average, they have taken in over 770 stray animals, cats and dogs, each year," he said. "Through our service delivery agreement with Whitfield County, the taxpayers of Dalton pay part of Whitfield County animal control service costs. On average, the intake of an animal at the (county) animal shelter costs about $200. So, by taking these animals and keeping them out of the county animal shelter, the Humane Society is providing a benefit of over $150,000 a year. Over a 10- or 12-year period, they are providing a benefit that exceeds the value of the property. They operate on private donations, and they can raise donations better if they can control their own destiny."

The donation includes a reversion clause that says that if the Humane Society stops using the site as an animal shelter it will revert to the city.

Kinnamon said the Humane Society had no problem with that.

"The people who donated that money to us, donated for us to build a shelter," he said.

Humane Society Executive Director Jonathan Shatz said "the donation of the land to the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia is a wonderful recognition of the contribution that we provide to the city of Dalton, Whitfield County and this part of the state of Georgia. Through the contributions of our volunteers, donors and supporters we greatly reduce the burden upon the county shelter."

"We appreciate all the support we have received from the city of Dalton and Whitfield County," Shatz said. "It takes all of us working together. The recognition and praise should go to all of our hardworking, dedicated volunteers and supporters. I always say that my goal is to put ourselves out of business. Hopefully, one day, all of our furry friends will have homes and be well cared for, and there will no longer be a need for our shelter."