ACHS ends city deal

Humane Society of Auglaize County officials terminated a deal with the city of Wapakoneta effective July 31.
In a letter presented by local Humane Society Secretary-Treasurer Tom Harrison and in a presentation by President Sandra Harrison, the Humane Society of Auglaize County, often referred to as ACHS, will cease accepting dogs picked up in the city by Wapakoneta police officers and by the county dog warden.
“Having a contract with the city makes us take in dogs a lot of times that we don’t have room for — I am trying to give you reasons for why we cannot do it anymore — if our shelter is full and somebody calls or the police drop off a dog at night and there is no room then we have to find a spot for them,” local
Humane Society President Sandra Harrison said while addressing Wapakoneta City Council members during Monday’s meeting. “We do that only because we have a contract that says we have to take them. It is becoming really difficult.”
She said they have to provide the Wapakoneta Police Department with a key and a special area to drop off dogs, and they have to “restate their value” to councilors during a Wapakoneta City Council meeting and during committee meetings.
“It also allows somebody like the person last week — I know we have a freedom of speech and it is a wonderful thing — but it puts us out there for that, too,” Harrison said referring to Lynn Schweitzer who address councilors on July 11 about the ACHS. “Anyway, the requirements of the contract with any political entity — the city, the county or whatever — is just something we can no longer do.”
In her report to councilors, she said the Humane Society picked up 110 dogs in Wapakoneta between June 2010 and June 2011. She noted 53 dogs were left in outside pens, police officers dropped off 30 dogs, Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office deputies dropped off four dogs and the dog warden dropped off 27 animals. Harrison said 72 dogs were claimed by Wapakoneta owners.
She said the local Humane Society would cease taking dogs from the Wapakoneta Police Department and the county dog warden July 31 which should give city leaders time to determine what their plans would be.
Harrison said city residents could still drop off dogs at the facility.
Wapakoneta Council Clerk Carlene Koch then read the letter into the record.
For Monday’s meeting, city councilors were considering a 1-year contract to pay the Humane Society of Auglaize County $7,500 to accept dogs collected and dropped off by police officers and the county dog warden. It was the same amount as the previous year.
The contract expired May 16, but city administrators continued paying the local Humane Society under the terms of the expired contract.
Councilors unanimously voted against the ordinance which called for renewal of the contract for 1-year so that new legislation could be drafted to reflect services provided by the local Humane Society from May 16 until July 31.
With a deal terminated at the end of July, Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr. said the announcement caught him and others by surprise.
“I am a little disappointed that it happened so abruptly,” Finkelmeier told the Wapakoneta Daily News after the meeting. “I know Safety-Service Director Bill Rains tried to contact the president of the local Humane Society for weeks with no response.
“Frankly we were prepared to renew the contract as before,” he said. “We are somewhat surprised that they are no longer interested in additional funding for their organization — that must indicate they are not seeking new donations.”
Finkelmeier, who chairs the Health and Safety Committee, said he will be calling a committee meeting shortly to discuss options including shifting the money from the Humane Society to the county dog warden to develop temporary housing for the additional dogs should they accept them.
“That is a very strong possibility, but I am going to have to speak to the county dog warden and county administrator to see what other assistance they might need as well as to discuss it with other members of my committee and the other councilors to see what their wishes would be on this matter,” Finkelmeier said. “The need for housing of canines exists so it would probably behoove us to take some action on this matter.”
Mayor Rodney Metz said he understood the Humane Society of Auglaize County board’s reasoning for terminating the contract.
“I can understand that the contract with the city is creating a burden as far as housing the animals and I can understand their problems and their dilemmas,” Metz said after the meeting. “We will make due one way or another. We obviously have an obligation to the residents and an obligation to the animals and we will find a solution.”