(WBIR - Morgan County) A vocal group of about two dozen Morgan County residents met Friday evening at Wartburg's Solomon's Park to talk about the area's stray animal problem.
Machelle Cooper of Sunbright was among those at the meeting.
"For the past five years I feed approximately five animals a day," she said.
Of those five animals, Cooper said only one is her pet. The rest are strays she's found wandering the streets of Morgan County and invited them into her home for care.
"It's my heart's desire to help," she said. "I love animals. I absolutely cannot stand the thought of one of them going hungry, but on the other hand it's a burden because I don't make a huge amount of money and it takes what I do make to pay my bills so I have to let something else go to feed the animals."
Cooper and many others are upset there's no safe shelter for strays in the county.
Sherron Ransey, a Morgan County resident, said the closest shelter is in Rockwood.
"It's quite a travel to get animals there and there are times when they turn down animals from Morgan County because they get overpopulated as well," she said.
It's a problem county leaders say they understand. Morgan County Executive Don Edwards sat in on this meeting and answered questions as the group talked about starting a local shelter. It's an idea Edwards says he's looking into.
"Over the last three or four years, there has been an obvious need that someone or something take control of our stray animal population because it's increasing from year to year," Edwards said. "I've heard the concerns of our citizens over here and I take those concerns very, very serious and I believe our county government will mirror my reflection on that also."
This group knows they have a long road ahead, but it's one they're ready to walk.
Cooper said, "There's a lot involved in getting it started, but I believe there's enough people who wants to see it happen and I really believe we'll come together and make it happen."
Friday's meeting was only to discuss the problem. The group agreed on calling the potential shelter the Morgan County Animal Coalition. As they continue working on trying to start an animal, talks about how to fund the shelter will be had.
The group of concerned citizens said they will meet with county officials on Tuesday, June 3rd at 6 p.m. at the courthouse to further discuss building an animal shelter.