Bessemer mayor turns down donation to animal shelter

BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - Bessemer Mayor Ed May makes no bones about it. He refused a 2-thousand dollar donation for the Bessemer Animal Shelter. On Monday, citizen Joni Crowe says she called the shelter looking for a dog.  She wasn't able to find the animal, but inquired further of the woman on the phone.

"'I said what's on your need list this week?'" Crowe recalled.  "And she said, 'We don't have any food'."  Crowe says she immediately began thinking about who could help, and Robert White came to mind.

White helps run the Anchor Club which operates a bingo hall.  He offered to cut Crowe a check for two thousand dollars and render the services of two employees.  They went to Walmart and bought close to 70 bags of dog and cat food and several bottles of cleaning supplies.  But when they went to drop it off at the shelter, Crowe says she got a surprise.

"As we pulled up, a man said they couldn't accept it."  Crowe says when she asked why, the man says the mayor would not allow them to accept such a large donation.

Mayor May says it is not that the shelter won't accept donations, they just won't take any that come from bingo halls.

"This has nothing to do with animals and everything to do with gambling...simple as that," May said Wednesday afternoon.

He says the bingo organization is trying to portray the city as needy and therefore, push the gambling agenda.  But May says that is not the case and that the city will never accept money from bingo establishments. "And let me say this.  At no time did those animals go without food."

But the director of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society says that wasn't the case last week when the Bessemer Animal Clinic called her asking for food.   "And we did donate food and cleaning supplies," said Jacque Meyer.  "And asked them to let their mayor know they were out of food."  Mayor May says he is unaware of that call.

As for the donation from the Anchor Club, Joni Crowe says it will now go to other animal rescue groups that are in need around the area.