Humane society seeks funds

PARKERSBURG – Noting a rise in costs, the humane society requested a 10 percent increase in service fees for the 2013-2014 budget.

The Wood County Commission is paying $22,612 monthly, which comes out to about $271,344 for the year, for animal control services provided by the society. Part of the funds to pay for the services come from dog license fees collected by the county, the rest is paid out of the county general fund.

The cities of Vienna and Williamstown have their own contracts for service. The county’s contract includes the city of Parkersburg. Previously the city had its own contract for services and the county contract only covered the unincorporated areas. When the city announced it would no longer contract with the society for services, the county asked the society to take over coverage of the city as well.

Hollis told the commissioners about $415,000 has been raised so far and plans are proceeding for the low-cost spay/neuter clinic.

“We will be breaking ground on that the first week of April, weather permitting. That is what the builder, Phoenix Construction, has told us,” Hollis said. The clinic will be on 29th Street. Hollis said for the first year after the center opens, the clinic should save the humane society $40,000-$70,000, depending on adoption fees.

“We want this to be the last year we have to ask you for an increase. I had to ask this year. Nobody likes going through this,” Hollis said. “We know the county last year took on the payment for the city, and we didn’t ask for an increase last year,” she said. “However, payment for the city of Parkersburg is still not equivalent to the service provided.”

Hollis said the society has seen increases in costs, including health insurance.

“We are shopping around and looking at options to reduce those costs. We are also eliminating a staff position as of July 1,” she said. “We’ve also seen increases in the cost of utilities and medications.”

Commissioner Blair Couch noted statistics provided by the society show the largest number of animals that come into the shelter are from Parkersburg residents.

“Maybe you could ask the city to cover some of the costs we are not required to by state code but are providing because we felt we needed to do that to make the community a better place to live,” Couch said.

Hollis said the agency is also looking at state and federal grant opportunities.

“We’ll do what we can, but our own income revenue hasn’t risen that much. We definitely don’t have an additional 10 percent more in revenue coming in,” Commissioner Steve Gainer said.

“We will consider your request, budget time is coming up,” commission President Wayne Dunn said.

By state code the county is required to provide animal control services. For many years those services have been provided by contract with the Humane Society of Parkersburg, which has a shelter and humane officers on duty.

After the city of Parkersburg ceased to provide funding for the society, the county absorbed the costs to provide services to residents within the city limits.

Services addressed in the current contract include taking in stray and unwanted dogs and cats, providing housing, care and disposition of the animals, answering complaints relating to unlicensed dogs during business hours of the society; attempting to pick up stray dogs; investigating complaints relating to alleged neglect/cruelty of animals; humane officers taking possession of any animal including birds or wildlife in captivity known or believed to be abandoned/neglected.

The society is also to provide 24-hour emergency services throughout the unincorporated areas and the city. Emergency calls are defined as injured dogs and cats; vicious dogs and cats, and assisting law enforcement in emergency situations such as motor vehicle accidents, DUIs, fires and drug raids, where animals are involved.

The current contract between the county and the humane society is in effect until June 30, 2013.