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Shelter leader says no funds, no service

September 20, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The cost of picking up and caring for hundreds of stray animals is taxing the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and its president asked local governments Wednesday to increase their contributions if they expect to keep getting the service.

"The time has come when you must make a choice," Nancy Gardner told those attending the Franklin County Council of Governments meeting. Townships that contribute nothing to the shelter, she said, "must choose to participate or choose to opt out of our jurisdiction."

Other municipalities that have contributed to the shelter, but not in amounts commensurate with the service they are receiving, will have to increase their contributions or "choose not to participate with CVAS," Gardner said.

Gardner said the shelter would prefer contracts with each of the municipalities, charging them $50 per animal, which she said covers only a fraction of the estimated $350 it costs to feed, vaccinate, spay or neuter, medicate and care for the animals.

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The county's dog law enforcement officer will continue to bring strays to the shelter, but Gardner said the local governments might have to make arrangements to hold those animals during her off-duty time, she said.

"We want to offer full service to everyone in our townships, but we will go out of business if we continue to do that without reasonable reimbursement," she said.

Gardner handed out figures showing 1,161 stray animals have been brought to the shelter through August of this year. Of that figure, 255 were dropped off after hours without any indication of where they came from.

"That is a loss of $12,750 to the shelter," she said.

Of the remaining 906 that were brought in from a dozen townships and boroughs in Franklin, Fulton and Cumberland counties, the figures showed the municipality received $27,690. A contract price of $50 per animal, however, would have come to more than $45,000.

Ten of the 12 municipalities, Fannett and Metal townships being the exceptions, have contributed to the shelter this year, according to the shelter figures. At the contract price, the 95 strays from Hamilton Township should have meant a contribution from the township of $4,750, although its contribution this year was $3,500.

"We just give them a flat fee of $3,500," said Township Supervisor Mike Kessinger, who added the township does not have a contract with the shelter. He said that would have to be discussed by the Board of Supervisors before any decision could be made.

"It sounds like it's either this or nothing," Kessinger said of Gardner's options of increased funding or no service.

Gardner said the private nonprofit organization is not supported by the county or state, and has to raise money and make payroll every two months.

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