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Animal control in chaos

Monday, January 19, 2009

The ongoing dispute between the Clay County Humane Shelter and the City of Brazil is causing a hassle regarding the picking up of animals in distress within the city limits.

On Thursday, an unidentified Brazil resident called The Brazil Times concerning a dog leashed up at an adjacent home.

According to the individual, the animal -- described as a red chow -- had no food, blankets or water. The individual admitted they gave the dog water but believed the house the dog was attached to may have been abandoned.

The resident called the shelter, which said it could not pick up the animal because it has no contract in place with the city.

As a result, the individual called the police department.

An officer arrived at the location and found the animal was abandoned.

The officer informed Brazil City Police Chief Dave Archer the dog had not been fed, watered and was in inadequate shelter considering the severe wind chill advisory the area was under.

"The animal was thin, had no food or water or adequate shelter and probably would not have survived throughout the rest of the night," Archer said.

Archer said, per policy, the department called the shelter, which would not pick up the animal due to ongoing contract issues.

Archer said the animal was picked up by county resident Chrystll Owens, owner of Clay County Animal Rescue, Inc., 763 S. State Road 59, Center Point.

"We're only calling her in emergency situations," Archer said. "We don't want to abuse this."

Currently, the City of Brazil has no contract with any kind of shelter for stray animals, meaning it is difficult to take care of them when they receive calls from concerned residents.

He added Thursday's episode was the first time they had to contact Owens regarding housing a neglected animal.

Archer said determining if an animal is being neglected is tedious.

He said an officer has to make sure the animal has food, water and adequate shelter. If the animal has these items, the owner is reminded to "keep a better eye" on the pet, Archer added.

However, if animals don't have these items, the owner may be cited and the animal could be taken away.

Archer said if a determination is made that the animal has to be taken away, the police department -- as per policy -- calls the shelter.

"They're refusing us every time we call," he said. "But we have to continue to call.

"Unfortunately, we can't make the shelter take our stray animals. Our hands are kind of tied at this point, but we're working on it the best we can."

Currently, the shelter has a contract with Clay County but does not have a contract with the city.

Bill Bell, the President of the Shelter Board of Directors, told The Brazil Times the two contracts have been standard operating procedure for a while.

"That's been the standard for quite some time, and long before I became involved with the shelter," Bell said. "The city is a separate entity from the county."

Bell said shelter employees have been instructed to tell concerned Brazil residents to call City Hall regarding animal neglect.

During a Brazil City Council meeting Dec. 31, the Clay County Humane Society rejected a contract the city offered it for 2009. The city offered the shelter $12,500 for animal control services at the meeting.

Bell said the shelter has been spending an average of $35,000-$40,000 per year taking care of animals within Brazil.

"Seventy percent of our animal concerns come from the city," he said. "We just can't continue to lose money.

"The chief of police and his officers are animal control. We are there to assist."

Because of the current contract dispute, Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw said the city's only recourse is to contact Owens for her services. At a meeting earlier this month, Owens offered to take a contract with the city for the amount Brazil offered to the shelter.

"We were asked to do cuts in each department," Bradshaw said. "It was not a punishment by any means.

"(Shelter representatives) brought us a contract for $25,000. We couldn't come up with the remaining $12,500."

Bradshaw added the city does have one dog trap and other cat traps at its disposal. Residents can come to City Hall and sign out the trap to retrieve an animal. Then, they bring the animal back to City Hall, but officials are back where they started regarding shelter for the animal.

She added an information session -- with Owens -- has been scheduled for 2 p.m., Tuesday, and a special council meeting is set for 7 p.m., Thursday.

"I don't want to see this happening," Bradshaw said.

However, Bell said he is optimistic an agreement will be reached.

"We operate on pretty slim funds," Bell said. "I feel real bad, but I think it will be resolved."

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In my opinion, the shelter is misusing county funds. I live in Clay County, my tax money helped the animal shelter. I just happen to reside in Brazil city limits. It's still my money being used by the shelter, but they wouldn't come if I called them? It's just not right.

-- Posted by Dagnabbit on Mon, Jan 19, 2009, at 5:40 PM

Thoughtful, you make a good point, I hope this gets resolved before any more animals have to endure these really bad weather conditions again since they seem to be smarter than any owner who would leave the premises and let the animal suffer like that.

-- Posted by Centered on Mon, Jan 19, 2009, at 8:13 PM

I'm happy the Mayor is watching every dollar the city spends and using tax money wisely. This is just an example of her leadership and how we can't spend that much money on the shelter as we have in the past. The money is not there... How can you possibly milk any more money from the budget? I guess they could lay off a fireman or a police officer for the contract... but is that a good idea?? Absolutely NOT! She has her priorities.

The shelter needs to come to terms that the city can't pay any more! Too bad they can't accept what is given to them. Maybe they need harder workers on the board to try to find better funding. Maybe they should do what the city has done and crunched their budgets.

-- Posted by Criminology08 on Mon, Jan 19, 2009, at 10:03 PM

One would think that Crim 08 is the son or daughter of the Mayor...always defending her and her actions. Thats kinda like sending a Chihuahua to a dog fight!

-- Posted by BigCB20 on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 2:33 AM

The position and responsibility of the government is a balancing act. While they must not spend more than it has, it also needs to take in enough to properly do the job. I still maintain that if animal control is costing more than the city can afford, it needs to find a way to raise the money to pay for it. Perhaps instead of asking why the city and humane society can't agree on a contract, maybe ask why there isn't a fee charged to pay for the privilege of owning a dog within city limits to cover the costs caused by allowing ownership there?


I believe the funding is linked to the law enforcement jurisdiction. IF your location is served by the county via sheriff, that county contract with the humane society is in place. If you are served by city police, then the city contract is in place because your taxes are paying for the city police and not the county sheriff. It is my understanding that those in the county do not pay for Brazil City police and the city residents do not pay for the County sheriff even though both cooperate with each other in some cases.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 7:04 AM

Are some of the responders City Employees? If the shelter can't afford to run with the funds the city is providing or offering, congrats to the shelter for sticking to their guns.

-- Posted by ccc on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 7:11 AM

This entire matter makes me mad! And the creatures that need help the most will go without until the Humane Shelter does what it is supposed to do! Shame on them and the board! How do you sleep at night knowing you are neglecting creatures that have no voices!!!

-- Posted by sassypants on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 7:37 AM

The shelter was not doing its job before the funds were cut. All you could get was an answering machine and your call would not be returned. The city of Brazil owns the land where the shelter is located. If they don't want to do the job for which they were given a lease then they have broken it. Let them move out and let some one will. They have broken their lease. The same thing thing happened in Terre Haute at the Hiatt center. The city of Terre Haute took over and let someone who was accountable run the center and it is working out fine.

-- Posted by george1 on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 7:39 AM

How about we start at the root of the problem-set up a program that educates the community on proper pet care. Like getting your pet spayed or neutered. It all boils down to humans being responsible! Animals will do as their instincts tell them-and they will reproduce. It is up to us humans to prevent the over-population of the animals. Set up a discounted or low-cost spay/neuter program. Teach people not to leave their animals without proper food/water/shelter. It is very sad that it has come to this. It is our duty and responsibility to protect the animals and right now we aren't doing our part!

-- Posted by millertime on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 7:57 AM

While I appreciate them sticking to their guns, it seems if they will allow animals to go without care, they are in the wrong business. It is my guess they could easily operate with less cost. Perhaps it would be more costly for them to relocate than to make the necessary budget cuts. Times are tough out there, good business people would probably not allow this situation to go on so long as to cost the City double the amount of the former contract. Shame on you!

-- Posted by dana67 on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 10:21 AM

Seems like the Humane Shelter has forgotten to act humanely.

-- Posted by madman36 on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 11:25 AM


-- Posted by Pearl2083 on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 12:24 PM

People at The Humane Society are not humane knowing an animal was in distress and would not come--why? The dog was within the city limits--what is this really about??!!?? MONEY.

This is sad, however in the end Mrs. Owens came to the rescue--living in the city I vote to give this lady a contract for animal control. She cares about the animals.

Our tax dollars are paying a portion at this very moment for animal control through the contract the county and Society have agreed upon.

Why are county officials not realizing that the Society has broken their contract--last I knew "Brazil" is in Clay County, Indiana.

-- Posted by Girlie on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 3:52 PM

Exactly madman. What are they there for? To make a profit or to have a heart? It doesn't matter who pays what, or what taxes pay what. The problem is that the humane center is refusing to take neglected animals just because they didn't get the funding they want. Apparantly the money is more important than the well being of an animal. I know they have plenty of volunteers, why not recruit more, why not fundraise the extra funds they need instead of relying solely on the city? I think their business should go under and someone else should open a non-profit shelter, seriously. Adoptions and such can fund it along with community charities, and I am sure that close to $1,300.00 would be enough to help. Why does everyone think their business needs to be paid for? Can't they fire these heartless people? Can't they charge more fees or something, set up programs for population control? Seriously, although that might escalate the problem. You make people pay to have pets and the ones who have them will get rid of them. hmmm. I think the city needs to make some adjustments to their employment staff and not let this go on.

-- Posted by justice4theunjust on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 4:24 PM

Jenny the citizens of Brazil pay the same taxes as the county plus an additional tax for the City. The county contract with the Humane Shelter should cover the City of Brazil. The Sheriff department does have full jurisdiction over the City and Brazil citizens pay a large part of their salaries thru property taxes, however the county residents do not pay any city taxes. The last time I checked the city of Brazil was in Clay County and we deserve the same protection and benefits as the rest of Clay County. It is time for the Clay County Commissioners to step-up and deal with the Humane Shelter, if the City of Brazil did not pay county taxes the county and all its residents would be in big financial trouble. The Humane Shelter has been ask repeatedly to produce its books, without these books it's hard to take their operating costs seriously. In my opinion it is time to eliminate all contracts with the Clay County Humane Shelter and put the funds into a government ran shelter…

-- Posted by lucky on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 4:25 PM

I live in the south end of Clay County, and i had asked several times for my dogs to be picked upand was willing to pay for them to be picked up, but they would never come to get them..I also pay taxes..

-- Posted by Norietta on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 6:05 PM

I think what the county council needs to do is figure out what percentage of the counties taxes the city of Brazil pays and decrease the Humane shelters county paid funds by that percentage. I'm close to this issue and I know how this works. I've heard all the arguments from both sides and the Biggest losers are the animals. Jenny, you are misinformed if you think that city tax payers don't pay the salaries of the Sheriff's department. The cost for the privilege of living in a city is that you have to pay Federal, state, county and city taxes. The county taxes that city taxpayers pay is combined with those taxes paid by rural county taxpayers to pay for everything the county government deems necessary. This includes Law enforcement (County Sheriff), the jail, roads, county bridges, animal control and so on.... I would venture to say that a large percentage of the counties taxes come from Brazil City, Clay City, Harmony, Staunton, Carbon and other small communities within the county. However, Clay City is not being denied service by the Humane shelter because Clay City is covered under the counties contract. The same with Harmony, Carbon, Staunton and all other communities within the county. None of them have separate contracts with the Humane shelter, only Brazil. The truth is, in early December, while the Humane shelter was still under contract with Brazil, A shelter employee refused to pick up animals in Brazil and told people that it was because the city was not renewing the contract. This employee did not know he was talking to a city employee. There are plenty of differing opinions about who is at fault, I just know these things for sure, stray animals will run, citizens will call for help and the police will come, but police are not equipped to catch or detain stray dogs, citizens do not care who comes and picks up the animal someone who charges $25,000 or someone who will do it for $12,500 as long as somebody comes. I also know that city residents pay county taxes and deserve to either get service for those tax dollars or to have the cities percentage of those tax dollars withheld from the entity refusing to provide the service.

-- Posted by mo47834 on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 7:58 PM

I am so confused. If a Brazil city taxpayer is paying taxes for animal control, and they are, how on earth can they, the citizens of Brazil, be denied services just because the city can no longer give the extra donation the administrative board demands?????????????????????

Signed Confused

-- Posted by Tracy Jones on Tue, Jan 20, 2009, at 10:01 PM

Sounds like the posts by Mo47834 and lucky are on point, and millertime has the right idea for some broadbased improvment on this community issue.

-- Posted by spiritof56 on Wed, Jan 21, 2009, at 8:11 AM

Someone from Brazil needs to file a lawsuit against the Humane Shelter for their failure to respond within the city limits, which is in Clay County.

-- Posted by reddevil on Wed, Jan 21, 2009, at 11:46 AM

I think the county should stop all payments to the Humane Shelter. If there is a contract between the county and the Humane Shelter the Humane Shelter broke it by not responding to calls within City limits.

-- Posted by scared4kids on Wed, Jan 21, 2009, at 12:18 PM

I happened to be by Walmart yesterday and noted a very pretty white lab mix walking on the side of the highway. These stray dogs are becoming a common occurance. I worry about the animals in these cold days. I hope someone reading this knows who owns this animal. It had a short face and gorgous white fur, 90 lbs maybe.

-- Posted by Pearl2083 on Wed, Jan 21, 2009, at 1:37 PM

I think the county should stop all payments to the Humane Shelter. If there is a contract between the county and the Humane Shelter the Humane Shelter broke it by not responding to calls within City limits.

-- Posted by scared4kids on Wed, Jan 21, 2009, at 12:18 PM


SCARED4KIDS I couldn't agree with you more. Why let them take others tax money when they aren't doing anything for us? The city of Brazil shouldn't be giving them anything right now until they agree to help us. This city keeps getting worse and worse!

-- Posted by NorthviewGirl on Thu, Jan 22, 2009, at 1:33 PM

Does anyone remember if the mayors husband used to run the Humane Shelter? My memory may be a little foggy, maybe he just worked there or was on the board, but I believe he was involved some how. I have a feeling if he was before and he was still there then this would all be a mute point.

Evidently there was a time that the city thought it required more to run the shelter. What makes them think that they can take a 50% cut and still operate? Maybe we should consider taking care of a lot of animals instead of buying one more very expensive dog for the police department. Or, possibly some of the city employees, such as the street dept that you see running around town, could assist in collecting strays. Might as well do something, they aren't working on the steets.

-- Posted by opininated on Sat, Jan 24, 2009, at 7:53 PM

Opininated I must have commented on the wrong story, I thought we were talking about the Humane Shelter. Or maybe your off topic by talking about the the Mayor and the Street Depertment. Sounds like someone is holding a grudge.

-- Posted by scared4kids on Sat, Jan 24, 2009, at 8:34 PM

No grudge here. Don't even know all the parties involved, just what I read. I truly do think that there are departments that have employees that are not exactly overworked. If you have cut the street dept, water dept, BPD, BFD, ect, to the bone and they don't have the materials to improve the roads, etc, they could assist in rounding up animals in the city. If you are paying taxes, such as I do, then you would wan't to see something to show for them.

I know that the PD and FD probably dont have the time to go out and round up dogs and cats, but there are some others that are often idle or have 2 to 3 people doing a job 1 or 2 could do.

I think there are better solutions than just cutting their budget in half. If they decide to go with the private shelter, I hope that they really can provide the service and the animals will be taken care of. But I think that is asking an awful lot for just a little.

-- Posted by opininated on Sat, Jan 24, 2009, at 11:47 PM

It sounds like Jenny Moore needs to read up on how tax dollars are distributed. City residence tax dollars go to every county department including the sheriff. They also pay a higher tax rate than those outside the city to support the city government. So yes they are paying the shelter twice for the same service. I agree with many others, the county needs to address the issue of tax payers being denied the services they are paying for by the money the county is paying.

I also think the shelter has outlived it time, it is time for a county/city ran facility governed by the elected officials instead of volunteers at some private not for profit but we want your money organization.

-- Posted by driverdude on Mon, Jan 26, 2009, at 9:27 PM

Question; Are the Clay County Humane Society board members paid a wage or stipend for their duties as board members?

-- Posted by spiritof56 on Thu, Jan 29, 2009, at 9:43 AM

I can't beleive how completely that your missing the point of all this! All of the debate is about human responsibility(thanks millertime). the problem comes from a lack of personal responsibilty, they think the laws of pet ownership don't apply to them. You talk like the humane society owes you something, that your entitled to the service they provide. Well, quess what, your not! Sure, you pay taxes to help aid in them providing services (you should actually check how very little that is), but that does not mean they can help with every situation. You would not continue @ your work if they could'nt pay you, so why do you believe that the humane society should?

-- Posted by muckie on Fri, Mar 27, 2009, at 11:23 PM

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