Tina Horn, a volunteer rescuer, asked the Calhoun County Commission on Thursday to eliminate the $25 fee for rescuers implemented two weeks ago. The Animal Control Center’s board of directors had recommended the fee to generate revenue for upkeep of the facility, to hire new staff and to take better care of its animals.
“I would like to ask that you reconsider the fee for rescues,” Horn said. “That way we’d be able to save more lives and not see them tossed into garbage bags and thrown in the landfill.”
Horn said rescuers who save multiple animals at one time now face costs they can’t afford as volunteer organizations. Rescuing a family of dogs, for example, she said, can have a fee of more than $100.
Horn also raised concern over what she said has been a lack of transparency from the board on the decision to start charging for adoptions. She told the commission that after several attempts to ask board members to explain to her how fees are used, she had still heard no reply.
Janet Odom, chairwoman of the Animal Control Center’s board of directors, said Horn’s concerns about adopting animals were “unreasonable” and that the shelter had already waived a fee for adopting animals under six weeks old. Odom also said Horn has made no attempt to sit down with the board to discuss the matter.
“The fee is 100 percent going back into the center, and more importantly to the animals,” Odom said, adding the center is still in the process of figuring out how much money the fee will generate for its budget.
Odom said she has only heard one or two complaints about the new practice, which she said is to be expected for a new fee. But for the most part, she said, residents have welcomed the additional cost.
“If we can take better care of the animals, then people have no problem with it,” she said. “It means we can give them better care than we can right now.”
Odom said a $25 adoption fee is “pretty standard” in most animal shelters, and the charge is probably overdue.
Linda Palmero, who runs Tender Heart Rescue in Georgia, said the Calhoun County fee is excessive, and that most shelters who charge for adoptions do so to cover the cost of medication for the animal.
“As a rescue we vaccinate ourselves and it does not cost us $25 even if we include worming,” Palmero said. “Due to the fact that Calhoun County Animal Control is charging rescue per dog, we’ll be hard pressed to take anymore when dogs in need closer to home are free.”
Not all rescuers in the area have opposed the new fee. Lisa Wippler of Semper Fi Rescue in Oxford said the center has had a complete turnaround since the establishment of the board and hiring of new staff and directors.
“Until the new budget can be created they need funds to come from somewhere,” Wippler said. “People hate change but that place is a 180 from where it was four months ago.”
Commissioner J.D. Hess said the commission would consider Horn’s request, and suggested, if possible, the commission meet with Horn and the board to discuss the matter.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved a contract with Merchant Capital in Montgomery for a municipal bond of $3.5 million to pay for the county’s matching fees and additional work for state-approved road projects.
• Approved a contract with CDG Engineers and Associates for bridge replacements on Verbon George Road and Steinburg Road.
• Reappointed Barbara Walters to a six-year term on the County Mental Health Board.
• Approved renewing a contract with Hobson City for law enforcement services provided by the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.
Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.