The Humane Society Serving Clark County has sent a letter to county commissioners informing them that the organization won’t be able to house strays picked up by dog wardens after Aug. 31.
Now Clark County stray dogs and runaway pets might be sent to Dayton.
“We are looking at several options we have, both here in Clark County and maybe some help again in Montgomery County,” Clark County Rick Lohnes said. “We’re working out those details right now.”
A Facebook post on the Humane Society’s page indicated that the shelter planned to close. The Humane Society isn’t closing, board member Michael DeCourcy said, but the agency can no longer serve the county dog wardens.
The wardens drop off about 20 dogs a week at the shelter.
“We don’t have enough ability to stay open enough hours basically to continue that service,” he said.
In previous years, the county paid the Humane Society more than $200,000 annually to serve as both the dog wardens and to shelter and care for stray and lost animals. Now the county employs the dog wardens directly and pays the shelter about $80,000 a year to house the dogs they pick up.
Since then the shelter has reduced its hours and is now only opens on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The shelter is working hard to stay open, DeCourcy, but needs to make preparations in case the shelter does need to close.
“The board is doing everything it can like we have always done to stay open,” he said. “We put a contingency plan in place in case, God forbid, we do close.”
State law mandates the county pick up stray dogs, Lohnes said. The county and the humane society have worked together for a long time, he said, and he hopes it will regain its financial footing.
“The Humane Society has traditionally done a lot, it’s a great society,” Lohnes said. “This one just seems to be financially struggling.”
Julianne Whitaker, a former volunteer at the shelter, said hearing that the humane society has discontinued its relationship with the county saddens her and she’s worried about the shelter’s future.
“What is going to happen to the animals that are my first go to,” she said. “Not only the animals that are housed there right now but the future animals that are found that are abandoned.”
Making Clark County residents drive to Dayton to pick up their lost pet isn’t a good solution, Whitaker said.
“The people, the residents of Clark County, there’s a lot of them who don’t have the resources to drive to another county to see if their animals are there and to pay the fines,” Whitaker said.
The Clark County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is an option that the county commissioners could use, Lohnes said, however its space would become an issue.
“The SPCA is very small and can’t take very many animals at all,” he said.
Volunteers and staff members want to keep the animal shelter open, DeCourcy said, but money is getting tight.
“We have always been a month-to-month organization,” DeCourcy said. “We have always tried to continue to operate. We don’t get as many donations as we did in the past. What we are doing is seeking out public support to continue to take care of dogs in Clark County.”
The best way for residents to help the shelter is by donating, he said, including cat food, dog food or money. Adopting a dog from the shelter can also go a long way to shore up its future, he said.
By the numbers:
$80,000: Money called for in a contract between the Humane Society and Clark County commissioners to house stray and lost dogs
35: Approximate dogs housed at the Humane Society shelter at a time
20: Approximate dogs the Humane Society gets from dog wardens a week
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has covered disputes between the Humane Society Serving Clark County and the Clark County commission for more than a year, including stories digging into changes to the dog wardens and the county’s contract with the Humane Society.