City Council discusses Animal Shelter

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The city council met for its regular monthly meeting Monday night.

First on the agenda was recognition of the City of Salem Parks and Recreation Board. Parks and Rec Director Denise Newkirk introduced Dee Dee Zink, Cecil Smith and Dr. Jack Hedrick. Jeff Williams was unable to attend due to illness.

Newkirk wanted to recognize the board at the meeting for all the hard work they do for the city and parks and rec department.

Next on the agenda was discussion of the animal shelter and how much it has improved and the cost to run the facility.

Due to the humane society working with area adoption organizations, the euthanasia rate has dropped dramatically, from 88.8% to 47.8%.

Mindy Gunn, who is active with the humane society, reported to the council the improvements that have been made. She said the shelter is now keeping animals longer, which is costing the shelter more money.

She said the humane society does pay for food, long distance service, Internet service and medications for animals, among other things. The humane society also handles grants that benefit the shelter.

Mayor David Bower noted that Salem Leader and GKN raised $6,000 to help spay and neuter animals, which has been a big help.

“Changes have been made that are good,” said Bower.

Animal control officer Rick Stewart said the new building has been cleaned out for vicious dogs and the odor is down.

Bower said the shelter is making improvements as they financially can. He said that as an elected official, he is doing his best to service the interest of residents.

Stewart said he does respond when complaints come in and they are doing the best they can to track down animals and take care of them.

The shelter’s budget is $72,000 a year, with the county contributing roughly $20,000.

It costs a resident $65 to adopt a dog. Of that amount, $55 goes back to the humane society and $10 to the city.
“It’s a challenge to increase services without additional funding,” said Bower, referring to the county being asked to contribute an additional $15,000 a year for the shelter.

“We need to come to some compromise for 2013.”

Attorney Drew Wright said there is no interlocal agreement between the city and county about funding. He said the county does not have to contribute funds and the city does not have to offer animal control for the county.

County Councilman David Hoar, who was in attendance at the meeting, agreed that a written agreement needs to be created between the city and county. He said the county will look at their budget and see what can be done.

The city council meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Monday of every month in council chambers.