Mayor Tom Arthur outlines his animal control plan for 2006 during a press conference Wednesday. The plan will be administrated by the city, ending a 12-year period during which the Clay County Humane Society handled the city's animal control program.
- City ends 12-year association with Humane Society
The City of Brazil has contracted with the Clay County Humane Society to handle animal control efforts in the city for the past 12 years. Now, the city says, it can make do without them.
Mayor Tom Arthur and Brazil City Police Chief Mark Loudermilk held a press conference Wednesday announcing the switch to a city-administrated animal control plan. Officials of the Humane Society, who said they were not notified of the decision before the press conference, were skeptical of the city's ability to handle animal control efforts internally.
"We're totally shocked," said Bill Bell, President of the Clay County Humane Society Board. "We get calls all day long from the people of the city of Brazil. I don't know how they're going to do it."
Prepared by Mayor Tom Arthur, the 2006 Animal Control Plan for the City of Brazil will create the position of "animal control manager," to be filled by an existing city employee. According to Arthur's proposal, the Clay County Humane Society had asked the council to appropriate $40,000 for animal control in 2006. Arthur said the humane society's proposal simultaneously eliminated key services it had provided in the past. The Common Council of the City of Brazil unanimously approved Arthur's city-administrated plan Tuesday.
"It is the feeling (of the city) that these services can be provided using existing city personnel and equipment," Arthur wrote in the proposal. "We further believe that the city can perform these services to citizens at or below the $22,000 appropriated by the council (for) 2005."
Under previous contracts, animal shelter workers had picked up stray or vicious animals themselves. Arthur said the Humane Society's 2006 animal control proposal did not include pick-up service, and would have required city police officers to transport animals to the humane society.
"The police department doesn't have the facilities or the manpower to be dog catchers," Loudermilk said.
Bell denied that the Humane Society attempted to pass the responsibility of transportation to the police department.
Clay County Humane Society Director Rick Moore said the Council's decision came as a surprise. His primary concern is that the animals receive the same quality of care they would at the animal shelter, which holds animals in precautionary quarantine for 14 days and administers an extensive battery of medications and immunizations to each animal it receives.
"We're a Humane Society, not a dog pound," he said. "It sounds to me like that's what they're creating, a dog pound or a holding tank."
The city plans to house animals collected in Brazil in a "holding center" at the wastewater treatment plant. Arthur estimated the structure, which will be maintained by the "animal control manager," would cost nearly $5,000. Animals would spend 72 hours in the facility before being transferred to another animal shelter in the region.
Pending the renewal of its Clay County contract, the humane society will continue to receive $26,000 from the county. Moore said the shelter will stay open despite the loss of revenue from its contract with Brazil contract.
"The Clay County Humane Society has been here since 1957," he said. "As with any other good business, we'll make cutbacks, but animal lovers are going to make sure we stay open."
The Humane Society continues to serve some other communities and rural Clay County.