After no increases in revenue from the City of Brazil for nine years and a $5,000 cut for the current year, the Humane Society and the city are negotiating a 2006 contract.
"We cannot cut expenses any more than what we have," Animal Shelter Manager Rick Moore told the City Council in a special work session Tuesday night after the regular City Council meeting.
"I'll be honest with you," said Mayor Tom Arthur near the end of the session. "Thirty-one thousand dollars is not possible in the city budget."
Arthur also said he was not prepared to start negotiating the finances of the new contract until the Humane Society presents a complete report of its assets, as requested.
Otherwise, the Humane Society, which runs the Animal Shelter, and the city seem to agree on most of the contract.
The Society is proposing the city pay $31,000 toward animal control as a starting point for negotiations.
Moore said the shelter lost about $9,000 in 2004 and was already in red ink to the tune of about $4,000 year-to-date.
Looking at past reports, City Attorney Joe Trout said the Shelter appeared to have lost about $100,000 over a 10-year period.
Moore said donations and fundraisers made up the difference to keep the Shelter functioning.
In 1996 until 2004, the city paid the Shelter $22,000 per year. In 2005, the amount was cut to $17,000.
The Shelter also receives revenue from fines to pet owners who do not exercise responsibility for their animals, according to law.
The Society has not presented the council with a statement of assets because they are not legally bound to do so, Moore said.
The City of Brazil is responsible for about 60 percent of the animals dealt with by the Shelter. Center Point and Carbon have also contributed to the Shelter's operation.
When asked if the Shelter has refused to pick up animals in Staunton, Moore said that was not true; it was rumor.
The mayor said he has received calls from people who try to take animals to the Shelter and are told, "We're full."
The Shelter has to take dangerous animals, according to state law, Moore said. When the Shelter is full, the other animals are placed on a waiting list "and we have pages of names," he said. The people on the list are called when a vacancy occurs, but he likened the situation to that of the county jail: when there is no occupancy, the animals cannot be accepted.
When an animal arrives at the Shelter, it receives vaccinations and is tested for parvo. If it is a dog, it receives a 4-way shot and if it is a cat, it receives a 3-way shot. It may also be quarantined.
If the animals tests positive for parvo, it is destroyed.
If an animals stays too long at the Shelter and is not adoptable, it is euthanised.
"We are scheduled to euthanise eight dogs this week," Moore said.
The Shelter has lowered the cost of adoption, uses generic drugs for the animals, is trying to lower the cost of pet food and has taken dogs to other communities where they may be adopted.
But no animal leaves the Shelter without being spayed or neutered as well as receiving its shots.
The cost of the service is expensive and, in many cases, preventable.
Moore would like to see the City Council adopt an ordinance limiting the number of animals a person or family may keep in Brazil.
But human responsibility, everyone agreed, was the key to making animal control affordable.
"Our citizenry has to be more responsible," the city attorney said. "It's not your fault and it's not our fault" -- referring to the Humane Society members present and the City council members present -- "there are so many stray animals."
Moore and Police Chief Mark Loudermilk agreed they have a good working relationship, when it comes to animals that are causing problems for local residents.
"It's not rocket science," Loudermilk said. "The police department needs the Humane Society and the Humane Society needs the police department."
"We've have a good rapport with the police department," Moore agreed.
But the community does not always understand the purpose of the Humane Society.
"We are not the animal control officers," Moore said.
Residents often contact him, saying, "I was told you are the animal control people."
After reading the current contract, the city attorney said the term "animal control officer" applies to any police officer, not the employees of the Shelter.
Also, Moore said a better definition of "emergency" needs to be understood by the public.
For example, because a woman lets her dog out at 1:30 a.m. and she can't get the dog to come home, does not constitute an emergency, Moore said, but he has received such calls.
Aside from a few "tweaks," the city attorney said "Everything is working, it's just a question of finances."
Council members Ann Bradshaw and Martin Beasley were absent from the meeting. Councilman Bill Lovett hesitated to make any decisions on the contract until Bradshaw and Beasley could be present as well.