On Thursday, the Wood County Commission made the latest move in its dance marathon with the Humane Society of Parkersburg regarding animal control duties for the county.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to offer the humane society a mulit-year contract for animal control that would pay the organization $271,000 a year. The county also would provide the humane society a new truck.
The county's offer was in response to the humane society's proposal of two weeks ago in which the organization offered three options, the most acceptable providing animal control during weekday business hours for $269,311. Under this proposal, the humane society would not provide animal control after working hours or on weekends.
According to state code, the county is responsible for providing animal control services for dogs. In the past Wood County has contracted with the humane society for this duty. The current contract is for $271,344 and expires June 30. Earlier in the year, the humane society requested a $27,135, 10 percent funding increase for the upcoming year. When the commission only offered funding at the current level, the humane society decided to cut its three positions and completely eliminate the animal control efforts, leaving the commission without this service. The humane society did offer to house captured animals for approximately $211,000 for the year.
During the intervening weeks, the three commissioners have met with other county officials to view their animal control operations with the idea of either getting into the shelter business themselves or contracting with another county for the service. The meetings were instructional but have not led to any cost-effective answers to what will happen after June 30. Maybe, with more time, the county commissioners could come up with a solution that will cost the taxpayers less than is being paid, but that certainly will not happen this year.
With that in mind, it seems the county's latest offer is a fair one for the humane society, and one we hope its board will accept. In addition to the money and a new truck for the organization, this contract would seemingly allow the humane society to maintain its current workforce without any layoffs.
The humane society, through its board and army of volunteers, does great work. It is made up of extremely dedicated people whose concern for the welfare of animals is sincere and second to none. That is why this offer should be accepted. It allows the organization to keep its workforce. That money would not be available if the commission is forced to contract with another county for not only collection, but also for sheltering strays. And it is highly likely those operations do not keep strays for an indefinite period of time before they are euthanized.
This is a generous offer and one in which the humane society board should give serious consideration to accepting.