Has the Wood County Commission gone beyond its legally required responsibility in the control of animals?
And, has the commission been "forced" into financially supporting and supplementing the Humane Society of Parkersburg's philosophy of keeping animals in potential perpetuity, instead of the state required five days?
Under state law, the county commission is required to seize any dog older than six months that is on the loose. The county is required to notify the owner of the at-large dog in the care of the county and the owner then has five days to claim it. If an owner cannot be identified, the county is required to keep the dog for five days before being legally permitted to put it down.
Nowhere in state law is the county responsible for the capture, control or maintenance of any other animal other than dogs.
The county has no responsibility under state law for cats, yet according to figures presented to the commission by the humane society, the county is paying $100,000 a year for the care and sheltering of cats. Why?
The county is not required to maintain a dog for more than five days, yet the humane society in its policy states, "There are also no time limits on how long an animal can remain in our Shelter." Is the county billed for animals kept in the shelter for more than five days? Yes, the county picks up the tab for however long the dog is under the care and sheltering of the humane society. Again, why?
The most recent contract signed by the commissioners and the humane society is for two years. If the county is serious about getting its animal control costs under control, it has two years to cease taking the easy route by throwing money at the problem and finding a long-term, financially sound solution.
That solution is the creation of a county facility, maintained and operated by the county that humanely follows the state mandate of animal control. Does that mean every dog/cat would have to be put down after five days? No, the imminently adoptable and/or rescueable animals could be kept for a longer period of time ... but not in perpetuity.
And before you start screaming "animal hater" at me, no, I am not. I had dogs when I was growing up and have had cats for lengthy period of years when my daughter was growing up and afterward. But my loving pets does not mean taxpayers should be forced to supplement my personal feelings for stray animals. At some point financial logic and economics have to come into play.
The Humane Society of Parkersburg does a fantastic job and should be congratulated for its willingness to go to extremes to save animals, but its philosophy should not be financially imposed on taxpayers and the county commission.
If the humane society wants to care/shelter cats, let it pay the tab. If the humane society wants to pay for the care/sheltering of dogs for longer than five days, let it pay the tab.
That's not intended to be mean, it is just putting the financial responsibility for the humane society philosophy back on the humane society, not the taxpayers.
Contact Jim Smith at email@example.com