Allison Grayson said she was no longer working with Johnnie Crowell, the original founder of Nonnie’s Angels, and asked the council to allow her and Renae Walker to open and operate a thrift store to pay off the debts incurred by the shelter and to generate funds to open another shelter.
“Because of the bad publicity, we can’t even have a fundraiser or anything,” Grayson said.
She also asked that she be allowed to bring animals into the thrift store on Fridays and keep them there until Saturday to attempt to adopt them twice a month.
The council members said they had no problem with Grayson or anyone else going through the process and getting a business license for a thrift store. The issues arose from the idea of having animals return to the building.
“First of all, if it is a thrift store license that goes through the normal process, I have no problem with it,” Council Member Ken Russell said. “In light of what’s taken place, I have a problem with going through the process of handling animals again. It was not just ‘bad publicity,’ it was inhumane, what was going on.”
Council member Floyd Burton urged caution on the approach of a new shelter and asked for a clearer vision and long-term plan before action was taken toward a new shelter.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Fowler said the women should focus on shoring up financial resources and settling the existing debts. Fowler said he has eight cats and is aware of the costs associated.
“I know what it costs every day to sustain that many animals,” Fowler said. “But, if I didn’t have the funds, I can’t have the animals.”
Council member Diane Martin voiced a similar opinion, saying they should secure their finances with the thrift store, then return and see about possibly adding animals back into the situation.
Mayor Petey Ellis said he believed that the idea behind and the need for the shelter was valid, but that he just doesn’t believe it is realistic to return animals to the location under the current circumstances.
The building is currently without water due to an outstanding water and gas bill of more than $800.
Fowler agreed to personally pay the water portion of the outstanding bill, telling the women they would have to pay the current bills and start making progress on the outstanding gas bill.
Grayson blamed the nonpayment on Crowell, saying she didn’t know there was an outstanding balance until a few weeks before.
The shelter was shut down several weeks ago for what police and animal welfare workers called “deplorable conditions.”
Grayson at one point told news agencies that there were more than 100 animals in the space, although only a few dozen still remained when police and rescue workers arrived that night.
The final 26 animals were removed from the facilty by Crossroads Animal Hospital from Moody, where they have received vet treatment for mange, flea infestation and various other ailments.
Sumiton police have an ongoing criminal investigation into the conditions in the shelter, but no charges have been filed at this time.