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."