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Humane Society asks county to pay more for animal control services

The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri is asking Cape Girardeau County, along with other government partners like the City of Jackson and the City of Cape Girardeau, to pay more for their animal control services in the area.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that 60 percent of the cost of the animal’s care is still very reasonable, if not a good deal for any jurisdiction,“ Charlotte Craig, the Humane Society board president, said.

The proposed change is from a 50/50 split bewteen the government jurisdictions and the Humane Society when an animal comes in from that government entity’s jurisdictions.

The Humane Society’s total budget for 2017 was $437,000, with these contracts combined covering $126,000 of the budget. The rest of the organization’s income comes from fundrais-ing, grants and adoption fees.

The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri does not receive any financial support from the Humane Society’s statewide or nationwide organizations. Craig added that the society is barely able to balance its budget now, and costs are expected to rise.

“While the budget for the four or five years ends up in the black, it doesn’t end up in the black very much,” Craig said. “We still struggle — we still kinda dog paddle.”

Craig added the board of directors has spent its past few meetings trying to come up with a request that is reasonable and is still a good deal for the jurisdictions.

One of the arguments for the increase is that it would cost much more for the jurisdictions to create their own animal control departments than the 60 percent the Humane Society is asking for.

The current formula for the past few years was based on the average cost per animal being $100. Craig said the organization had brought in a consultant who looked at their budget and found the average cost per animal has changed from to $124.

With the share being changed to 60 percent and the average cost going up to $124, the humane society is asking the county for around $75 per animal, compared to the current per animal charge of $50.

The county contract for 2017 was $27,000, while the Humane Society’s new request is around $45,000.

“We are offering a quality service,” Craig said. “We feel we are worth that 60 percent. The better business person would not say the following, but you’re my friends so I’m going to — it’s a jump and we all know it.”

Craig said they would be open to getting to the 60/40 split in increments, if the county was not able to make the jump right away.

The county was the first government entity to be asked to change their contract, but the Humane Society plans to ask for these changes from all their government partners.

Craig also asked the county to think about creating a countywide ordinance that would match a current ordinance from the City of Cape Girardeau.

The ordinance states that the first time an animal is picked up and brought to the shelter, they must be microchipped. If the animal is picked up a second time, they must be spayed or neutered before they are released.

Craig said after a few years, the ordinance has made a dramatic impact on the number of animals brought in.

The nonprofit organization cares for almost 4,000 animals every year, and was able to find homes for 94 percent of dogs and 52 percent of cats that came in the past year. The society also has taken care of small rodents, snakes, pigs, llamas and other animals that are brought in.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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