MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) – Cat lovers in Mt. Juliet asked the city to overturn the police chief’s decision to no longer allow most cats at the animal shelter at the Board of Commissioners Monday night.

The shelter falls under the police department’s jurisdiction and Chief James Hambrick said his decision comes down to money and priorities.

“I know it’s not popular,” said Chief Hambrick, adding, “but as the chief of police I can’t make what’s going to be a popular decision, I need to make the right decision.”

Chief Hambrick told News 2, cats take twice as much work to clean up after.

By getting rid of them, the city’s animal control officers will be able to respond more quickly to calls and they’ll be able to patrol more. The shelter will also be open three days a week. Previously, a person needed an appointment to adopt an animal.

“We listened to citizens’ concerns and we also prioritized our resources,” Hambrick explained.

But people like Allison Dunne say having the animal shelter open to the public is great but there will be barely any cats to adopt.

The city said it will continue to take in cats that have been injured or kittens that have been dumped. But with so few cats, the facility will be half-empty.

“This is going to be a travesty and a much bigger issue than they anticipate because someone has to pick up the slack with these cats,” Dunne said.

Several rescue groups told the commissioners, they’re already overwhelmed and can’t help.

What’s more, they fear people who no longer want their cats will simply dump them.

“The feral cat population is going to explode,” said one citizen.

“They’ll be climbing out the dumpsters, it will be disgusting,” said another.

But Hambrick stands by his decision. What’s more, he said that if the city gave him more money he would promptly use it to amp up his police force.

“Our men and women are being killed out here,” he told the commissioners. “We’re dealing with some serious issues out here and that’s not to minimize cats, but let’s put this in the proper perspective.”

The city will still implement a trap, spay/neuter and release program to help control the feral cat population.