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SPCA cuts funding request
Friday, June 8, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Martinsville-Henry County SPCA has reduced the amount of money it is seeking from the Henry County Board of Supervisors to care for animals in the county pound.
If the county agrees to provide $45,000, the SPCA will begin a fundraising campaign to match the county’s contribution, Leslie Hervey, executive director of the SPCA, wrote in a letter dated June 5.
“The SPCA is out of funds to continue our rescue and rehoming program with the pound,” she wrote. “We are asking the county to commit $45,000, half of what we expect to spend” for the year to get animals in the pound adopted or in no-kill rescues.
That is $30,000 less than the SPCA originally asked for to continue the partnership.
The agency will keep track of each animal taken from the pound and the amount spent per animal and will submit a quarterly tally of expenses “so you can see the animals” saved, Hervey wrote.
The SPCA and the Henry County Sheriff’s Office began a partnership in May 2010 in which an SPCA employee worked 20 hours a week in the pound to keep it open extended hours, help care for the animals, photograph them and otherwise help find homes or other rescue organizations to reduce the euthanasia rate, according to the letter and previous reports. The employee spent another 20 hours at the SPCA for a salary of $30,000.
When an animal was adopted, the SPCA provided all the vaccines, rabies, flea/tick treatment, neutering/spaying, deworming and related services, and housed the animal until it was picked up by its new owner, Hervey wrote.
If a rescue group was found to take an animal, the SPCA did all of those things plus worked to get all of the certifications required so the animal could travel across state lines, she wrote.
“On average, every animal we take from the pound costs us a total of $250. All this was done at a great expense to the SPCA,” Hervey stated.
Additionally, the SPCA provided the pound with air conditioners, beds for the dogs, water buckets, computers, stands and cameras for the two animal control officers, she wrote.
After the first year of the partnership, Henry County Sheriff’s Lt. Ben Rea secured an additional $10,000 annually from the county to help offset the $30,000 paid to the SPCA employee, and “we were grateful for any help the county could provide,” Hervey wrote.
Even with the additional funds, the SPCA spent a total of about $156,000 a year on the program, including the $30,000 salary, she added.
Earlier this year, the SPCA asked the county for $75,000, less than half the annual cost of the partnership, according to Hervey and previous reports.
The supervisors delayed their decision until their June 26 meeting, in part to determine whether there would be other increased expenses facing the county, including fuel. The day after the board decided to delay, the SPCA pulled out of the pound.
According to Hervey’s letter, that occurred nine days before the partnership agreement was to have ended on April 30.
That decision was made because “we were out of money” to continue the program, and “all she (the employee) could do was go to the pound and watch the animals die,” Hervey wrote. “We had no further money to do the state-mandated procedures necessary to get the animals adopted or to rescue.”
About a month later, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office hired the SPCA employee and put her back in the pound for 20 hours each week. The $10,000 county contribution earmarked for the salary was transferred to the sheriff’s office.
The SPCA also takes in strays and owner-released animals, Hervey wrote. The county provides $7,286 annually to the SPCA.
“The county is mandated by the state to maintain a pound,” and there are policies and regulations governing pound operations, Hervey wrote. If an animal is not claimed, the county “is responsible for keeping the animal healthy, free from suffering, fed and safe.”
The county also is responsible for the animal’s outcome, Hervey wrote, and outlined two options: “kill the animal or give it a second chance.”