Council Finds Animal Control Broken; Removes Money for Support

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Council Finds Animal Control Broken; Removes Money for Support

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – “Sensitivity and compassion has to be taking care of animals who are homeless,” stated Mayor Kim Wolfe at the Saturday March 5 budget hearing.

However, despite his plea and t he concerns  by council persons Ritter and Jackson, the city's governing body voted to withhold its $100,000 contribution to the Huntington Cabell-Wayne Animal Control Shelter. “

To devastate the budget is not the way to go," Wolfe said, adding  "this will close the shelter down."

Council member Frances Jackson asked, “How will this effect the animals?”

Former council chairman, Jim Insco, tersely acknowledged, “You know the future of most of the animals they pick up,” referring to the fact that many are euthanized.

Insco told council that “if no other municipality contributes, Huntington cannot provide one-third ($100,000) of the funds.” He continued, “municipalities of the two counties must contribute.” Otherwise, he called the contribution “throwing money away”

Showing his willingness to solve challenges at the shelter, he volunteered to lead a committee to investigate re-organization of the shelter. “I do not want to see more animals cut loose and destroyed,” stressing the animal control agency as currently administered “has outlived its usefulness.”

What happens if other municipalities will not contribute, asked Ms. Jackson.

“Then we have a problem,” Insco said. “Maybe we do not provide animal control for those municipalities.”

Steve Williams , a self professed animal lover, agreed about Huntington residents “getting double dipped” but said the decision will “cause us to be inundated with calls.” He contemplated whether a special levy should be voted on for animal control.

Mayor Wolfe said, “I think you are absolutely right about municipalities,” adding that the dog/cat tax collected by the assessor “would seem to be a funding mechanism,” though “it is not utilized in that direction.”

Finance Director Deron Runyon told everyone that “the tax comes to less than $2,000 per year.”

Council chairman Mark Bates, then, acknowledged that the current system does not work properly. “I adopted a dog that has given me a lot of joy, but I will support moving the money to contingency which will open eyes.”

After cautioning that he would not support the removal if it was to be allocated elsewhere, a majority of council voted to withhold the money.

 

Ms. Jackson expressed a worry after wards that it will take longer than July 1 to resolve the animal shelter issues.