Pigeon Forge — Editors note: This article originally said the county paid Pets Without Parents $380,000 to handle the abandoned pets in Sevier County. That dollar amount was incorrectly provided to WBIR. We've also added the cities of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg in addition to the county as places that paid Pets Without Parents.
Who will take care of lost and abandoned pets in Sevier County? It's a question that's had several different answers in just the past year.
And now there's another twist after the county-funded shelter Pets Without Parents announced it's going to close.
Commissioners are considering three options. They can choose to have the animals go to the Sevier County Humane Society, have them go to a separate, temporary shelter, or just take over the humane society's property.
"We certainly hope that we will reconsider," Cheri Hagmeier, Sevier County Humane Society board chairwoman, said.
Hagmeier says she wants to work with commissioners.
"It's more practical and compassionate move if we work together, and we have reached out to them," Hagmeier said.
She's hoping the humane society can help the county take in homeless animals after Pets Without Parents closes July 1st.
A county spokesman says the county and the cities of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg paid Pets Without Parents $265,000 annually to cover operating costs.
The Humane Society asked for the same amount to take in Sevier County's abandoned pets.
"We are stronger when we work together, we have a strong reputation in our community," Hagmeier said.
But at a budget committee hearing last week, commissioners turned down that idea.
In a statement, County Mayor Larry Waters said, "The Budget Committee chose to reject the proposal from the SCHS due to the past poor working relationship."
Commissioners asked the mayor to hire an attorney to look at the possibility of using eminent domain on the humane society's facility.
Eminent domain would let the county take property, pay fair compensation, and convert it to public use.
The mayor continued to say, "While I understand the committee's frustration, I am always very reluctant to use the power of condemnation unless absolutely necessary."
He recommends another option — a temporary shelter.
"I continue to believe the best solution for our citizens and the animal welfare is...working with experienced people on a short-term shelter, while continuing the process of building a county and cities operated facility," Waters said, in his statement.
The commissioners will look more closely at their options at a meeting next Monday.