Young Williams will handle Knoxville and Knox County animal control.

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Knoxville and Knox County pet owners will now see a more proactive approach to animal control services as Young-Williams Animal Center, a nonprofit, takes over animal control enforcement duties.

“This approach will unite animal welfare organizations and law enforcement agencies, resulting in better serving the people and pets of our community,” Young Williams said in a statement. “Our focus will be on educating and supporting pet owners rather than the traditional response of citation and seizure.”

In other words, the new approach works for the well-being of individuals and their pets rather than the legal system.

The change in power — from law enforcement to a nonprofit — comes after weeks of deliberation by the Knoxville City Council and the Knox County Commission. Young-Williams officials say it ties in with the change across the country.

Everything you need to know about Young Williams’ New Authority.

What is Young Williams?

Young Williams Animal Center Has been in Knox County since 2001. It is a nonprofit whose mission is to end pet homelessness and promote animal welfare.

They offer pet adoptions, spaying/neutering and are now in charge of animal control services.

What does stability look like?

Knoxville will pay about $416,000 for the transfer. Young Williams will hire 17 people: 15 officers, one supervisor and one director. They will replace nine animal control officers paid for by the city and six paid for by the county. According to the city, the dollars saved by eliminating those officers will more than cover the cost of the relocation.

Specialists will work to match pets with owners onsite rather than impound, as well as licensing pets in homes and connecting owners to the shelter’s microchipping program.

The Knoxville Animal Control Board will still exist, but with an expansion: a representative from the Knoxville Police Department and two members of the public at large. Young Williams will also have a non-voting representative.

What powers will Young Williams have?

Young Williams workers will have the ability to issue citations and remove animals. They will also provide criminals with resources for the factors that lead to corruption.

“This ensures that criminals are held accountable and have opportunities to correct any wrongdoing,” Young Williams said in a statement.

They will be able to remove animals from private property if the situation meets certain criteria:

  • An officer observes an animal leaving its owner’s property and wandering into the neighborhood.
  • An officer obtains a warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction to seize the animal.
  • An officer determines without immediate intervention that the animal will suffer serious harm or death.

Will the reporting process change?

No. Calls will continue to be directed to the non-emergency number: 865-215-8639.

Where will the animal services be housed?

Animals will continue to arrive at Young Williams’ main intake facility at 3201 Division St. Young Williams is looking for a city and county field service operations office.

Eli Feinberg reports on politics for Knox News. Email her: allie.feinberg@knoxnews.com and follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter, @alliefeinberg.

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