Young-Williams Animal Center to take over animal control

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer

A unanimous vote by the Knox County Commission approved the Young-Williams Animal Center to take over all aspects of animal control in Knox County and the city of Knoxville.

The vote approved the center’s animal pickup and control beginning on April 1, 2024, and relieves the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the city’s animal control officers. The city police and sheriff’s deputies will remain in the background and could be called on if needed. Current city and county animal control officers could possibly join the new division at the center.

When asked if YWAC would have the ability to respond to “livestock” calls, CEO Janet Testerman replied, “We will.” She said the center is gearing up to assume the duties, hiring and training staff, and should be ready by April. She said the center has agreements with other agencies, like Zoo Knoxville, to handle larger animals.

Commissioner Larsen Jay noted that both the sheriff and the city police chief “want this to happen” and told Testerman, “I hope they just don’t wash their hands of it.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the county and the city will each compensate Young-Williams $157,045 for the first three months beginning in April. In addition, the county and the city will each compensate $92,680 in personnel costs for 60 days of hiring and training.  The county and the city will then each compensate $628,178 for the first full year of the contract beginning July 1, 2024, with a 2% increase per year for the next two years of the agreement.

Each will make a payment of $166,000 within 90 days of execution of the agreement for one-time purchases specific to the transition. Upon execution of the contract or any subsequent renewal, Young-Williams will submit an invoice to the city and county for payment, no earlier than July 1 of each fiscal year.