Erica Blethen feeds the dogs in the kennels at the Humane Society of Clark County Tuesday, Jan. 31. Bill Lackey/Staff

Clark County, Humane Society reach deal to keep lost, stray dogs here

Clark County leaders and the local Humane Society have reached an agreement to keep stray and lost dogs picked up by dog wardens within the county, but the nonprofit’s leaders said it still faces financial struggles.

Clark County had planned earlier this month to send stray or lost dogs picked up by wardens to a Montgomery County shelter after the two organizations couldn’t agree on the terms of a contract for the next year, County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said.

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Now the county has agreed to to an $80,000 contract with the Humane Society serving Clark County at 5201 Urbana Road to be paid in monthly installments.

“We decided it was more beneficial to our residents in the county to keep the captured dogs here in our county,” he said, “and it would save us running all the way down to Montgomery County.”

The agreement is within the budget the county had available, Lohnes said.

“It’s great for the community as far as we can see,” he said.

But the Humane Society will have to step up its fundraising and recruit more volunteers to continue operations under the new contract, Humane Society Executive Director Roger Ganley said.

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“We just have to work with what we’re given now,” he said, “and that’s why we’ve had to cut our hours at the shelter. I had to layoff two full-time people and a couple part-timers as well.”

The shelter now has three full-time employees and about three part-time employees, he said, and usually houses about 35 dogs. The reduced shelter hours are from noon to 7 p.m. Thursday, noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and closed the rest of the week and some holidays.

In previous years the county paid the Humane Society more than $200,000 annually for both the dog wardens and to shelter and care for stray and lost animals, Lohnes said. But that financial support significantly decreased this year because the county recently took over the dog wardens.

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That means the county no longer needs to pay the Humane Society to cover the salaries of the wardens, Lohnes said.

“There’s confusion in the county on who the Humane Society really works for and they don’t work for the county,” he said. “We contract with them.”

During negotiations, the county had offered to pay about $80 per dog brought in by the warden but the Humane Society was looking for a guaranteed amount per month.

The Humane Society also wanted the county to pay $80 per dog dropped off by residents, but Lohnes said the county legally isn’t allowed to do that under state law.

“We’re not permitted to pay for any of the other activities associated with the Humane Society,” he said.

Ganley, who took over as executive director of the shelter in August, said he worries the shelter may have to close.

“Every single day,” he said. “Losing sleep over it.”

He hopes the reduced hours will be temporary.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time,” he said, “and hopefully people can come support us or just write us a check because that’s what we need right now.”

All dogs picked up by dog wardens have been kept in Clark County while the negotiations were ongoing, he said.

The dog wardens have also moved their office from the Humane Society to a temporary location at the Springview Government Center, Lohnes said, and plans for a permanent facility have been made. The county previously paid the Humane Society about $9,000 a year in rent for the office space.

Erica Blethen feeds the dogs in the kennels at the Humane Society of Clark County Tuesday, Jan. 31. Bill Lackey/Staff
Photo: Staff Writer

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