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Vaughn: County may be doing all it can financially to aid SPCA initiative
Sunday, April 8, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Henry County has done all that it can to fund an SPCA initiative at the county’s animal shelter, according to a member of the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
The Martinsville-Henry County SPCA approached the county a few years ago “and asked to operate the program at the pound and that they would provide the funds to do that. Now, if they are not able to do that, the program at the pound may have to stop,” Ridgeway District Supervisor H.G. Vaughn said.
He and his wife, Brenda Vaughn, both are self-described animal lovers and long-time supporters of the SPCA and its events, and “we have all the highest regards for that program,” Vaughn said.
“However, from a governmental aspect, the county is responsible for animal control and not necessarily animal support,” he said.
“The county has done what it can” to fund the initiative, Vaughn said.
Leslie Hervey, executive director of the SPCA, said the initiative began about two years ago as a way to reduce euthanasia rates and find homes for more animals. An SPCA employee works at the county pound 20 hours each week, keeping it open extra hours and working to adopt more dogs that otherwise would be euthanized, she said.
The staff person ensures pound animals “are well fed, takes pictures of them to get on the website and hopefully helps to save their lives,” Hervey said.
Since it began two years ago, “we have reduced the euthanasia rates by 20 percent,” Hervey said.
Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said “there are a substantial number of animals that are not being euthanized now than before” the initiative started.
The program has “been a benefit to us,” Sheriff’s Lt. Ben Rea said. “What they have adopted has been a big help, and there have been more dogs adopted than we’ve ever had before.”
Hervey estimated that the program costs $158,000 annually, including costs of vaccines and medical care.
“We asked the county for less than half that amount” — $75,000 — for fiscal year 2013, she said.
In lieu of that, she said the SPCA asked the county to put the SPCA employee working in the pound on the county’s payroll and give the SPCA $45,000 to help pay operating costs associated with the initiative.
When unveiling the budget Tuesday, Henry County Administrator Benny Summerlin proposed that the 25 outside agencies which received county funds in the current fiscal year receive level funding in fiscal year 2013.
If that is approved, the SPCA would get $7,267 next year, the same as this fiscal year.
If the county does not increase funding, Hervey said the SPCA Board of Directors “will have to decide whether to abandon the program at the pound” because the SPCA cannot afford to continue it.
“We are doing our part and the county needs to do their part, or at least half of their part. That’s all I’m asking for,” she said.
Board Vice Chairman Tommy Slaughter said he also is an animal lover, “but there again we are in a crisis situation here in that we are asking our teachers, our kids and everybody else to bite the bullet. I just don’t see that we are going to be able to do anything more” for the SPCA,.
Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams said any increase would mean taking funds away from somewhere else in the budget.
He also anticipated other public concerns about the budget may be aired during a 7 p.m. April 16 public hearing.
“To say what we can and cannot do at this point is premature until we’ve got public input,” Adams said.
Collinsville District Supervisor Joe Bryant said he “would hate to see the program go. ... We just don’t have the funds to divvy up among all the people that need it.”
However, Bryant encouraged the SPCA to attend the public hearing and present its case.
“The budget is not set in stone right now,” he said. “If they come to the public hearing, then maybe we can see what we could do.”
Horsepasture District Supervisor Debra Buchanan said Summerlin tried to provide level funding to outside agencies “because there are so many out there that are very worthy. I think the SPCA does a great job with the resources they have, but I also think that what we have to do is level funding because we have no new revenues coming in.”
Vaughn also said “the community has done an outstanding job in supporting the SPCA, and I hope that will continue,” with residents donating and the agency conducting fundraisers to “support not only the SPCA’s primary services, but also its secondary operations at the pound.”
Iriswood District Supervisor Milton Kendall could not be reached for comment.