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SPCA considers canceling animal control contract

May 20, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

The Washington County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is considering cancelling its animal control contract with the county because of the high cost of providing the services, according to the group's executive director.

The board of directors will meet tonight to discuss whether to continue with the county contract, said SPCA Executive Director Shelly Moore.

"Essentially, we could run the shelter and not do animal control. Providing for public safety is the county's responsibility," she said.

Moore said the agency has been subsidizing animal control services with donations to the agency by close to $30,000 a year. Those donations are supposed to go to animal care.

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"We can't continue to subsidize public safety services with humane society dollars," she said.

Moore said the agency was at a crossroads because it plans to build a new shelter.

Without the contract, the new building would be much smaller because 65 percent of the shelter's animals come from animal control efforts, she said.

The agency would need a long-term commitment from the county for funding before going ahead with construction, she said.

The County Commissioners, on the advice of County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop, voted Tuesday to increase the SPCA budget by $26,000 to $312,000 next year and to negotiate a long-term agreement with the agency.

"They are in a bind," Shoop said. "I believe they really need the additional money."

"I disagree with you," said County Commissioner John S. Shank. "I think they ought to start living within their means. Three hundred thousand dollars is a lot to pay for animal control in this county."

Despite Shank's comments, he didn't vote against a motion by Ronald L. Bowers to approve the additional funding.

Moore said that despite the additional dollars, the SPCA will still have to cut back on the services it has been providing.

Only emergency or life-threatening situations, such as a severe dog bite or a sick or injured animal, will receive an SPCA response after hours, she said.

Also, the SPCA will no longer pick up animal carcasses.

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