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Final Agreement: Humane Society Funded for 2 Years at $271,000 a Year

By: Jillian Risberg, Todd Baucher Email
By: Jillian Risberg, Todd Baucher Email
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Updated: 6/03/2013 4:30 P.M.

A large increase or no increase at all? Five years or two years? And the purchase of a new vehicle. Those are the issues the Wood County Commission have discussed with the Humane Society of Parkersburg during the past three months.

Last Thursday, the commission proposed a five-year contract, from which the society could opt out after three years.

"The proposal was for a solid three years," said Wayne Dunn, Commission President. "But, being very objective, I thought it was a good way to go."

But the humane society believed five years was too far into the future to determine its finances. The commission in March said it couldn't fund a ten percent increase request by the society.

"We're running out of money, and unless we get a tax increase from the taxpayers," Commissioner Steve Gainer told the society. "It's not that we don't want to give you that money, it's that we just don't have it."

What the two sides could agree to, is to fund the society at $271,000 for each two years, and help provide it with a new vehicle.

"We're going to have to make some cuts, but we think we can live with that for two years," Carrie Roe, Humane Society Board President, said after Monday's meeting. "We're hoping that, with the operation of the (soon-to-be-built) spay and neuter clinic, that will allow us to reduce our costs more quickly. Hopefully, we can take advantage of some of the reduced spay and neuter fees we're going to be offering the public."
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Updated: 5/16/2013 6:30 P.M.

"With the disagreement that occurred, and the position the humane society decided to take," Wood County Commission President Wayne Dunn said Thursday, "there's another option now, and we're anxious to hear what the option is."

The proposal: the Humane Society of Parkersburg continues to provide the county animal control services, but not around the clock as it has. A plan which would save the society and the county $34,000.

"It is very similar to what we're doing now: doing investigations," said Carrie Roe, Board President, "responding to allegations of abuse or neglect, picking up injured animals during the normal business day. It will just be during those 5 P.M. To 9 A.M. hours we will not be on call. And we would expect the county or the law enforcement to provide those services to the county areas."

The society has pledged to continue to make its animal shelter available to the county, but that Wood County would have to provide its own animal control services. The commissioners this month have been visiting operations in other counties, to determine how that could do that in a cost-efficient manner. While it still plans to discuss the society's latest proposal, Commissioner Steve Gainer appeared supportive of the idea.

Roe told the commission that, under that option, the number of animal control officers would be reduced by one.

The humane society has given the commission until early June to come to a decision on its proposal.

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Updated: 5/06/2013 5:30 PM.

The Wood County Ccommission now has to determine how its animal control program will operate.

The Humane Society of Parkersburg is ending its animal control services to the county July first.

Commissioner Blair Couch last Friday visited operations in Monongalia and Upshur counties.

Commissioners last week also looked up close at facilities in Mason County and in Marietta.

"I love the setup in Mason County," Couch told his fellow commissioners Monday, "and they were very dedicated to their job, and they were doing it inexpensively. Buckhannon doesn't have as nice a facility, and their budget is heavier, and they're doing some neat things. And Morgantown is in a class by itself."

Couch says Morgantown's site operates independently from its humane society, with a large budget, and even operating its own crematorium.
The commission hopes to make its final decision soon on how its site will operate.

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Updated: 5/2/2013 6:30 P.M.

Doing more with less. That's how the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley says it handles its costs and its obligations. Its executive director states its budget is slightly more than $300,000 a year, with less than a third of that coming from local government sources.

"I was able to find grants through Pfizer, where it cost me very little for shots," Steve Herron told the commissioners Thursday morning.

"All of our dogs that need medical attention get it," added Deputy Kelly Shubert, Washington County Dog Warden. "If they come in with an injury, or are diagnosed with something that's potentially fatal, if the vets can treat it, we put out the money. So nothing suffers here."

A large amount of money comes from fund-raisers, at least one a month.

The shelter took in roughly three thousand animals last year, and while more than a third of the cats had to be euthanized, that was true for only a small percentage of the dogs.

"I like the way they've run it, said Commission President Wayne Dunn. "They've been creative; they've done things we haven't seen before. The animals are well cared for, they've been very close to being a 'no kill' facility, and they're very effective at what they do."

While the commission is impressed with what Dunn calls the creativity of its operation, it isn't convinced yet that's how it will run its animal control service. It has less than two months, however, to develop one of its own.

The commissioners visit Morgantown and Upshur County on Friday.

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Updated: 4/22/2013 6:00 P.M.

One down and three to go.

The Wood County Ccommission visited one of four animal control facilities in the region.

Wood County has to develop its own animal control program by July, after being told the humane society will no longer provide that service.

Monday, it visited Mason County's program, which is less costly and has a small staff.

But Commission President Wayne Dunn says he's not sure that county is comparable to Wood County, because of its smaller population.

The commission also has visits scheduled Friday to Morgantown and Upshur County, and plans to visit Marietta's operation Thursday.

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Updated: 4/22/2013 5:40 P.M.

July first.

That's the day the Parkersburg Humane Society will stop providing animal control services for Wood County.

And, beginning next week, the county commissioners will visit counties which handle animal control themselves.

Mason, Upshur and Tucker counties are on the list, as is Monongalia County.

"It's got a humane society, it's got about 90,000 people," says Commission President Wayne Dunn. "Morgantown and Parkersburg are about the same size. They have their own facility and don't use the humane society, but their costs are about the same as we would pay."

Washington County is also on the list of sites the commission plans to visit in the next few weeks.

The commission has also discussed hiring two of the three officers who will lose their jobs once the humane society ends its animal control program.

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Officer jobs are getting cut at the Humane Society of Parkersburg.

Three humane officer positions will be eliminated as of July 1, 2013.

Wood County Commissioner Dr. Wayne Dunn says the decision was the Humane Society's option since their purpose is not doing animal control.

He says they do that in a sense as a favor to the county.

"Things have been tight for four years, our revenues have been down and they've never been given a significant raise and it's just tight," Dunn says. "We're in charge, the commissioners are in charge of managing the monies of the counties, and we try to take that serious and do that very well."

Dunn says the commission tries to save where they can and spend to get the best out of the dollar and it's the same here.

He says the Humane Society felt the need to raise their fees by ten percent.

As a commission they didn't feel comfortable holding the line with everyone else, then giving a ten percent increase to the Humane Society.

Maryann Hollis, executive director of HSOP says they have had their economic issues and so has the county.

The county approached them about decreasing their budget and Hollis says the most logical thing seemed to be animal control.

"In doing our budget for next year, we knew there were some more costs to be made up in our whole cost accounting methodology that we've been going through with the county and the city for the past few years," Hollis says. "Obviously, the burden was put on the county for the city's animal control and sheltering."

Hollis says they thought they'd be good if they break even next year. By then, the new clinic will be in operation and it will start to get better in the animal welfare world in our area.


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