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Animal Control is everybody’s problem

Hank Bonecutter
Hank Bonecutter

With the firing of Karen Josephson as the Montgomery County Animal Control director, an already serious problem is getting worse. It’s a very emotional and political issue, and it won’t get any better until we all take responsibility for our pets.

Josephson was fired over some administrative shortcomings, and missing receipts, but what she was really fired for, in my opinion, was bringing too much publicity to the problem, and having a big heart. Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers had just had enough of the non-stop headlines. The daily reminder that this is a serious problem, and only getting worse, was too much for the mayor.

It’s been a year of too many headlines for Mayor Bowers.

When Josephson was hired, she came with “glowing” recommendations and was going to get the department in shape.  She had an impeccable record and reputation. She lowered the “kill” rate at our facility, and was adopting animals at a fever pace. She was trying to work with all of the animal rescue groups, without showing favoritism, which in itself is a daunting task.

She was also being “stabbed in the back” by some her own employees, and some local animal activists who think they have all the answers. One very prominent animal “lover” even brags about her role in the firing of the previous director, David Selby.

Yeah, you should be proud.

Local veterinarian Dr. Ron Whitford has been very critical of how the Animal Control facility was being run, and how animals were being euthanized. He has also “called out” the Clarksville-Montgomery County Humane Society for their non-stop fundraising, and still no spay-neuter clinic. Whitford has been the subject of attacks by local animal lovers, and has been threatened by people who claim he’s “a dangerous vet.”

Why haven’t other veterinarians spoken up?  Curious.

Now, Mayor Bowers has appointed Sgt. Tim Clifton of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office as the new director. Clifton has absolutely no experience in animal control, animal adoption, or any of the responsibilities of the job. But he does have the qualification of closing off the department to the public. Volunteers have already been turned away, very little publicity has been dispensed about how the public can help, and make no mistake, you will not read another story about unwanted and abused pets, and how overwhelmed that department is.

Out of sight, out of mind.

What’s most disappointing, is the lack of interest among other public officials. Not a single elected official has come to the aid of that department. There’s been a lot of talk, but no action. So, animals die. It’s just a matter of time before the city has to get involved, because that’s how terrible the problem is and we just can’t continue to put our head in the sand.

I have given untold amounts of publicity to the animal problem in my career. I have given my own money and raised awareness to the problem, but nobody cares. Fort Campbell dumps hundreds of unwanted pets on our facility and we get no help from the base. Animal activists, and rescue groups are labeled as “fanatical.” One particular animal lover has been barred from the facility.

And animals die.

So please, if you have a heart, spay or neuter your pet. If you have a heart, DO NOT take your pet to Montgomery County Animal Control. If you’re concerned about the animals, then hold our public officials accountable for their actions, or lack thereof.

Hank Bonecutter
Hank Bonecutterhttp://www.clarksvillesmotorcycle.com/
Hank Bonecutter is a retired broadcaster and media consultant based in Clarksville, Tennessee. His career includes stints at WKDA/WKDF and WKQB Rock 106FM, WLAC-AM in Nashville. He concluded his career as owner/talk show host at WJZM-AM in Clarksville. Currently the President of Bonehead Promotions, he's an advertising consultant and media strategist. An avid motorcyclist, Hank blogs about his travels exclusively at www.clarksvillemotorcycle.com and www.clarksvilleonline.com You can follow Hank on on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dodgintheroadkill/, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/?lang=en, and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/dodgetheroadkill/?hl=en  


  1. Sandy Britt has been blocked from commenting. This is from her:
    I applauded the hiring of Karen Josepheson. But what we must remember is that Animal Control’s mission is primarily a law enforcement one. They are sadly tasked with accepting every animal someone drops off as well as picking up strays and killing thousands of healthy, unwanted pets every year. For too long county government has ignored the problem, but we finally got a new shelter and improvements, though they happen to slowly. I think the problem was simply that Karen’s heart and focus was too much on the adoption side of the equation. That is commendable, but more suited for a private animal welfare organization. The adoption side of the house at animal control should be handled by local animal groups, such as MCFOTS and the Clarksville-Montgomery County Humane Society, with full support of the director and county government.

    What disturbs is the recent and constant bashing of the Humane Society by you, Hank, as well as Dr. Ronald Whitford. What kind of veterinarian would go on a such a public campaign of hate and destruction? I know why and pointed this out to you and to him. I posted on your articles before, but some important ones were taken down or not published. Dr. Whitford accused me by name of sending him a threatening email on your radio show, where he made up every word of that phantom e-mail, which you also published in an article. You never called me for comment as a professional journalist would do. You did not ask to see the alleged email and if you did, Dr. Whitford could not not produce it, as it is only a product of his lies. The only contact I have had with Dr. Whitford recently was to comment on a public post he made on MCFOT’s public Facebook page, where he told out-right lies about the Humane Society. I corrected the record and I printed those Facebook conversations before they were taken down. I will be glad to talk with anyone who wants the truth and will show all of my printed materials, including emails Dr. Whitford sent to scores of people in the animal-welfare community accusing the Humane Society of all kinds of nonsense and also admitting he is “gunning for them.”

    Here are the facts: Dr. Whitford wanted the Humane Society to use only him for spay-neuter programs. They refused to make any deals with only one vet, for many good reasons, but he could not accept this and that is when he went on his libelous and slanderous campaign against them. He has been a veterinarian for 40 years he says. So why all of a sudden, only now, after the Humane Society announced plans for a low-cost, high-volume spay-neuter clinic with no income restrictions, did Whitford decide to do the same thing (though he has tried to copy it, it is not the same at all), using almost the exact same name and message, while at the same time bad-mouthing the Humane Society left and right? I think anyone with basic reasoning powers can figure it out.

    Anyone who truly cares about spay and neuter would be supportive of all efforts by any organization, even if they don’t agree with their programs and focus. It is none of his business what the Humane Society does. He only decided to gripe when he did not get what he wanted for his own purposes.

    And Hank, you never gave the Humane Society a chance to respond either. Whitford complains they are raising money but have yet to open the clinic. The answer is easy: They need enough money to buy all of the equipment and pay for the veterinarians and staff BEFORE they open. Once up and running, it will pay for itself. The economy is bad and donations for non-profits are low.

    And ask your self this: why didn’t Dr. Whitford HELP them to open their clinic if charity and spay neuter was so important, above his own practice?

    His timing and the facts, not his spin, tell the true story.

    Why haven’t other vets spoken up you ask? Most people are afraid of him. I am not.

    No one has threatened Dr. Whitford. He is the one doing all the threatening. Why he feels so defensive and victimized is also very telling.

    I have worked in the animal-welfare area in this community for more than a decade and I have done so with all area rescues, giving my time, money and lobbying efforts. I was editor of Animal Tracks and wrote a pet column and blog for three years. All rescues have have been working together well for many years, until Dr. Whitford decided to put his personal beefs ahead of what is best for the animals of this community, actually telling the public not to give to the Humane Society but only to the group which he made a deal with. Hey, I’m glad for any spay and neuter effort. What I won’t tolerate is anyone trying to destroy another group trying to do the same. This is not a competition, though he seems to be making it one.

  2. I’m certainly glad a tag for this posting says you could find it in “Opinions” section, because it is certainly just that! To give due credit though, the title hits the nail on the head! I’m afraid the vast majority of complainers are overlooking the REAL problem at hand. It is a well-known fact that the animal issues in the Clarksville-Montgomery County area are extreme to say the least, that being said, until our citizens stand up and take responsibility for their animals…NOTHING WILL CHANGE!! The animals in and out of our facility aren’t born from the dirt everyday! They are a direct result of lack of responsibility from some owner down the line. I am thrilled to see the euthanasia rates dropped drastically as a result of us being under the leadership of Karen Josephson. She did fight tooth and nail for each and every animal in our facility to have a fair chance at life. She’s an amazing woman and while we no longer have her direct guidance, she would expect nothing less than us moving forward under new leadership for the good of the animals. We are blessed to have a new director, Tim Clifton, who also shares the love of the animals and see’s them for the defenseless and innocent lives they are. He works hard everyday to get them into safe and loving homes. I am confident he will continue to prove that to the citizens of Clks-Mont Cty. I would love nothing more than to have our euthanasia # to zero but that will never be a realistic goal…it’s just not possible people! Think about it next time you call and complain about a stray in your neighborhood, request pick up, and then go off the deep end when the animal is euthanized. Why didn’t you keep it to begin with? Why not open YOUR home to it? Or when you choose to drag us through the mud online or in the paper when we have no choice but face the most dreaded fact and day at Animal Control, the day when some have to go because there’s no more room….feel free to let us know when you will have your cozy backyard converted into a foster/rescue facility to take all those animals from us. I encourage you to leave the POLITICS to the POLITICIANS and simply work as a city and county united to get your animals spayed/neutered, keep them at home, and give them the life they deserve!!

  3. Mr. Bonecutter…Are you saying that people should not have stepped up to expose the lies that Mr. Selby had told that ultimately got him fired and allowed Ms. Josephson to apply for and get the job as MCAC director?

    Are you saying that the State of Tennessee Auditors are incorrect in their findings of poor record keeping and missing receipt books which led to Ms. Josephson’s being fired?

    You state that not a single county official has come to the aid of Animal Control. Have you ever spoken with county officials to see what they have done to help Animal Control? I think you’d be surprised at what you find out.

    As for your accusations about “animal lovers” in the community, do you have the facts on all of that to back up your “opinions”?

    I have gone into detail in comments on your other articles which explain many of the things that you have reiterated in this article. Please look at them to refresh your memory.

    It seems like you are once again getting your “facts” from a few people and that you have no real facts to back them up.

    Other vets are helping and speaking up for the Animal Control animals. They help out in many ways, but aren’t as vocal as Dr. Whitford who seems to think the whole world is out to get him. I can provide you with a list of things that other area vets have done and are doing if you would like. Dr. Whitford isn’t the only vet in town who helps Animal Control animals, rescued animals, and rescue groups. He is NOT the only vet who will spay/neuter Animal Control animals for $50.00 included in the adoption fee…..Animal Hospital, Tiny Town Vet, Family Pet Hospital and Hillside vet also do. Animal House Vet partnerships with Precious Friends to do lower cost spay/neuter and the Humane Society offers lower cost spay/neuter through other vets.

    If you are going to do an article that you portray as fact, please do some research and don’t use what you hear from a few of your friends as being true.

  4. I do have to admit, after paying out of pocket for over a dozen stray cats to be fixed, and having to jump through hoops at times with the humane society to get a voucher, it is high time that there is a vet who is willing to do a low cost spay/neuter program.

    But that being said, I don’t understand what is accomplished by publicly ripping other animal organizations. If you have a problem with the humane society or other vets, set the example, as you have done, but leave it at that. Dr. Whitford does low cost spay and neuters, so I’ll be using him in my seemingly one family mission to do the right thing (in my neighborhood). And good for him. But that doesn’t discredit any other organization from trying to make the world a better place.

    The fact is that Clarksville, TN is still one of the worst places in the country for animals. One vet cannot do it all by himself.

  5. Why has Sandy Britt been blocked? Its unfortunate that negative things have been said about the HUmane Society. I have been a volunteer for over 15 years and can attest to many great thing;s they have done for people and for animals in this community. They operate off donations and very minimal public funding and do an incredible job. I have never observed any unethical practices and have seen the budget and know the director personally and professionally. I can tell you its a thankless job and one that is a total labor of love. Nobody at the HS is getting rich or enjoying a glamourous life style..Its a lot of blood sweat and tears and most wouldn’t have the nerve or the stomach to last long even as a volunteer there. They see some pretty horrific things every day.Same goes for animal control. Its so much easier to look the other way than to face the problem head on. Its brutal to look at the numbers and realize most animals there will never make it out alive.
    There are many vets that work with the HS and provide low costs spay and neuters. ALl vets that help the public and the animals should be appreciated . I also think its their duty to do so. They are business people and have to cover costs and I am thankful for the ones who have compassion and empathy for people who cannot afford medical care for their pets. Many low income families love their animals and seek cost effective vet care.God bless the veterinarians who offer this to them.
    Its sad to read the hateful and aggressive remarks I have seen lately..it certainly doesn’t help our cause or does it benefit the animals we are trying to help.I wish people would work as hard at providing a positive resolution as they are at treating each other down. The right way to serve is to volunteer at AC,MCFOTS( I have given $ to all of them and appreciate all they do) or the HS or give of your time or resources or consider being a foster home.Adopt you next pet from one of these or other wonderful shelters /rescues in our community!NOne of this makes exciting salacious new stories but it really is the way to help. I am grateful for the people who continue to try to hep the animals in our community. They know who they are <3

  6. I’ve just returned to this community after 30 years. I see that there is a stray cat problem here and absolutely no help for strays. I understand that pet owners need help, but what about the strays? It is not their fault that they are homeless. I have been calling around for more than a year to get free spay and neuter help for the animals in this neighborhood. I have seen one cat have two litters of five kittens so far. So now you have ten more homeless cats running around. The six month old that I tried to get help for had five kittens. I’ve found homes for two of the kittens, but nothing for the other three. Had there been help those five would not be here. I am unemployed and cannot afford the $50 low cost fee that is offered at several clinics. I know what will eventually happen to the little female in the group who is now six months old and I just hate to see that. When I took the kittens to the Humane Society I was told by the attendant while reaching for the kitten “we will go ahead and put them to sleep because they are going to catch diseases from the adult cats, because we don’t seperate them.” In other cities where I’ve lived they have a catch and release program where they trap the strays spay and neuter them then release them back into the communities where neighbors feed them. Clarksville being such a small town I would think the same could be done here. I e-mailed Mayor McMillian several weeks ago about this problem, but have yet to hear back. In my openion this town cares nothing for helpless strays and does nothing to assist those who care and want to help this problem could slowed down a great deal. My hat is off to any Vet. who has a heart and wants to help. And kudos to those citizens who use personal funds to help.

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