When the City of Brazil opted not to renew its animal control agreement with the Clay County Humane Society for 2006, some wondered if the shelter could stay afloat.
Humane Society officials reaffirmed their pledge to keep the shelter open at a press conference Tuesday. CCHS Director Rick Moore said the society will tighten its budget and rely on volunteer work and donations to continue to serve the needs of Clay County's residents, human and otherwise.
"We have survived (previous financial setbacks)," said society director Rick Moore. "We will stay open."
The Humane Society received a base amount of $17,000 from the city in 2005, plus all penalties collected under Brazil's animal control ordinances. Revenue from the City of Brazil represented about 20 percent of the Humane Society's operating budget in 2005. The CCHS will continue its contract with Clay County, which paid the Humane Society $26,000 for its services in 2005, Moore said. Brazil is the only municipality within the county that has contracted individually with the CCHS.
Moore has expressed concern that Brazil's recently approved city-administrated plan, which will pay an existing city employee for an extra 10 hours a week to serve as "animal control manager," does not allow for the high volume of animal control calls the city generates. The Humane Society has responded to 855 animal control calls in 2005, 507 of them in Brazil. Moore estimated 60 percent of the animals the shelter takes in come from within Brazil's city limits.
Stray and nuisance animals apprehended in Brazil are currently housed in the Humane Society's 180-capacity shelter. Under the recently approved plan for 2006, those animals will be housed in a 10-pen "holding center" while they await transport to another shelter in the area. Lorrie Batchelor, kennel manager at the Clay County Humane Society's shelter, said she is worried the planned facility will not be adequately equipped for animals with special needs.
"We get a lot of nursing mothers, puppies with eyes that haven't opened, others with special needs," she said. "Ten pens just isn't enough. You can't throw animals like that into 10 pens."