Animal control options presented

PARKERSBURG – The Humane Society of Parkersburg is offering the Wood County Commission a new option: Reduced animal control at a slightly reduced cost.

Representatives of the humane society and the group’s board of directors met Thursday with commissioners to offer three funding options, two which have already been considered and a third compromise option.

Carrie Roe, president of the board of directors for the Humane Society of Parkersburg, presented the budget request of $269,311 that would include shelter and animal control services, but would eliminate one humane officer and a night and weekend call center. The change would mean the society would no longer answer after-hours calls for injured or vicious animals or to assist law enforcement or emergency personnel in removing animals.

The county is required by code to provide animal control services relating to dogs and has over the years chosen to do so by contracting with the humane society.

In March the commission announced it would not fund a requested 10 percent increase, an additional $27,135, for new contract to begin July 1. The county’s current contract, which expires June 30, is for $271,344.

In March a letter to the commission, the humane society announced it would cut three humane officer positions, effectively taking it out of the animal control business. That $202,746 budget request, listed as animal sheltering only, was presented Tuesday as Option 2.

Option 3, presented to commissioners Thursday, offers reduced animal control services at a reduced cost. The option is about $29,000 less than the society’s first budget request, and about $2,000 less than the society’s current budget.

Roe said some of the money saved by the reduction of costs would be used to fund the purchase of a new truck. Officials said the vehicle being used is more than 18 years old, has more than 280,000 miles on it and costs more to maintain than it is worth.

Option 3 already had been adjusted for those costs, Roe said.

Commissioner Steve Gainer said while he liked the new proposal, he had a hard time reconciling the lack of help during emergency situations in the evening or on weekends. Roe said the society already only responds to cases of vicious or injured animals during those hours, but with the cutback there will be no emergency number to call in the evenings and no one on call.

“It does reduce the services we are providing outside of normal hours to the county,” Roe said. Any issues during those hours would have to be handled by law enforcement or another entity designated by the county, she said.

In the rare event a humane officer still would be called out, under the proposed budget the county would receive a bill.

“I think it would have to be (billed), because that is not part of our budget,” Roe said. “If you have to have somebody available, that is Option 1,” the original budget request with full services.

Gainer asked for the commission to explore purchasing or helping to purchase a truck for the society, and asked whether that might allow them to negotiate some of the services offered. Roe said that was something that might be explored, but said it was unlikely that would restore the humane officer position.

Roe asked for the commissioners to decide which option they would like to pursue by June 1, so the society can plan accordingly.

The commission will vote on the options at an upcoming meeting. An exact date was not scheduled Thursday.