After much discussion, Wapakoneta City Councilors voted to shift money to the Auglaize County Dog Warden during Monday’s council meeting.
The council agreed to forward $5,000 that had already been set aside in the budget for the purpose of addressing animals running loose in the city to Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey after the recommendation was made by Wapakoneta Health and Safety Committee Chairman Tom Finkelmeier and other members of the committee. The money allotted will assist with staffing.
The money had already been set aside for services provided for dog pickup at the Auglaize County Humane Society (ACHS), but the society abruptly ended a deal with the city effective July 31 at the July 18 meeting.
Humane Society President Sandra Harrison said the move was made due an increasing difficulty meeting the needs to find a spot for animals turned over to the society by city officials. She also stated at the July 18 meeting that it put the society “out there” for responses from people such as Lynn Schweitzer, who had addressed council at the July 11 meeting about concerns with the ACHS.
Before Harrison’s announcement, the city had been considering a 1-year contract with the ACHS for $7,500 to accept dogs collected by the dog warden or the police department. The city had been paying the ACHS according to the old guidelines of the contract although it had expired May 16.
The move actually saved the city money, as $3,125 remained to be paid to the Humane Society for the rest of the year. Combined with the $7,500 proposed for the new contract, the city saved approximately $5,000 in total.
However, the move didn’t go uncontested as councilor Dan Graf questioned the need to pay the fee to the dog warden.
“I am not convinced yet,” Graf said. “How many municipalities are participating in providing funds?”
After being told it was believed no other municipalities were giving funds to the warden, Graf added that “I see this as a County Commissioners problem.”
Councilor Stephen Walter, who serves as a member of the health and safety committee, countered by saying “I have no qualms about my recommendation,” adding that the city was actually saving money from what had been allocated.
Finkelmeier said the move is a temporary fix as the dog warden works on making the dog collection self-sufficient.
“We realize that the tag fees should hold it up,” Finkelmeier said. “But that isn’t realistic until the tag count is up. For the collection and housing of (a population range of) 46,000, we should have more than 6,000 tags.”
Graf further explained his lone dissenting vote after the meeting.
“I don’t feel it is the responsibility of the municipalities to come up with the funds,” Graf said.
Auglaize County Commissioners recently began working on plans to build a new dog shelter behind the Auglaize County Law Enforcement Center on Dearbaugh Avenue. The commissioners decided to move forward with that project originally discussed in 2008 after dog tag sales had increased from 3,800 when Bailey was first hired to a little more than 6,000 so far this year.