Over a year ago, the Hancock County Commission assumed management of the animal shelter. At that time, they stated they would run the shelter better than the prior management and would consult with veterinarians regarding animal care. Currently, more animals died at the shelter in one month than died in the last year under prior management. If you don’t care about animals but want to relate this to money, this is how the business venture is measuring up.
Per state code, the animals are to be spayed or neutered prior to release from the shelter. This isn’t done free by any veterinarians, and paid for. Departure from the shelter is one of three ways – animals are adopted and a fee is charged, but this fee doesn’t usually cover the costs that were involved in the care or altering of the animal; the animal is transferred to an out of state organization, where the future is undetermined, but they are “off the books” here; or the animals are killed. If the animals are transferred, there is very little if any cost recovered, but the out of state organization is making money from the sale of these animals. Though it’s terrific that the animals are not killed at the shelter, but, again, there is no agreement between the county and these organizations of what happens to the animals.
How is a business sustained when not making money? This is the best part – the taxpayers of Hancock County are the financial support for this endeavor – to the tune of about a half-million dollars a year. Not only do the animals face an uncertain future, but the people of this county have no choice but to support this endeavor. Under prior management, this would be costing you $188,000 a year. And no one would be “killing animals” as a cost saving measure. Remember, they promised to run this better than prior management – sounds like a good business venture so far, doesn’t it?
Don’t expect answers to the most troubling questions, because our county officials are entitled — they feel they don’t owe an explanation. The information isn’t available or just simply isn’t tracked.
In a recent FOIA request submitted to and replied to by the county clerk, “Income received for animals adopted or transferred out listed by animal is not tracked, so there is not a report.” “A complete list of the reasons for euthanasia or death is not readily available, and it is not always complete.” “If you would want anything pertaining to reasons it would take time for an employee to go through all of the files to retrieve the information if there is any available.”
Did I forget to mention – a new computer system at the shelter, and we still can’t track this information? How do you sustain a business long term with this type of management or lack thereof?
And this is the group proposing a new waterline endeavor in this county?
Carolyn A. McIntyre