GOLD BEACH Curry Countys new Animal Control Advisory Committee held its first meeting Thursday and immediately set to work on funding issues and its relationship with the South Coast Humane Society.
The members also drafted businessman Walt Edwards as their first chairman, and clerical worker Jill Peters as secretary.
The meeting was also attended by Animal Control officers Trig Garayalde and Steve Nagel, and shelter attendant Sandy Gilkey.
Nagel said the first order of business was to find revenue to fund Gilkeys position.
Gilkey said she was originally paid for her work at the shelter under the Green Thumb job program. She was paid $6.50 an hour for four hours a day.
When the previous shelter attendant left, the county began to pay Gilkey $8 an hour for an additional 3.5 hours a day.
Garayalde was injured and off the job for a few weeks before Nagel was hired. During that time, Gilkey was the only one keeping the shelter open.
Gilkey said when Green Thumb officials learned the county was paying more of her salary than the program was, she became ineligible.
Nagel said Green Thumb will not pay any portion of Gilkeys salary now, so the county must find about $14,000 a year to keep her on, even at half-time.
Gilkey said if she loses her position and the shelter has to be closed more, it will lose revenue from adopting out dogs.
Nagel asked the committee members if they had any ideas for raising revenue. He also had one of his own.
He wondered if the three port districts in Curry County might be able to contribute to the shelter each year.
He said the idea is preliminary. So far he has spoken only to Russ Crabtree, the manager of the Port of Brookings Harbor.
Nagel didnt know if the ports could help, or how much, but said hed like to approach them with the idea.
He said any port funds would go directly to Animal Control, and not to the county. He said Animal Control spends a lot of time at the ports.
One suggestion was that the officers keep logs on where they go, for how long, for what reason and the result of the trip.
The numbers will come back later to help us with the community, said veterinarian Barbara Barke, a committee member.
Gilkey said much of that information is already logged for each call. She said she would reset the computer program to record the resolution of cases.
If Gilkeys hours do have to be cut back, one suggestion was to find volunteers to answer phones at the shelter.
Barke said volunteers are not always qualified to handle all calls. She preferred an answering machine.
We want people to think were on top of it, efficient, she said.
What is needed most, she said, is a straightforward message on the machine that tells callers exactly what information to leave.
She also suggested looking into having calls forwarded to the homes or cell-phones of the two officers.
Gilkey said a woman has offered to help write grants for the shelter. Committee member Olive Wooldridge had also taken classes in grant writing.
Gilkey said the cities need to support the shelter too, especially Brookings. Nagel spends most of his time patrolling Brookings. Garayalde patrols the rest of the county, and Brookings on Saturday.
Nagel also suggested boarding dogs as a way to generate additional revenue. He said Gold Beach needs a boarding facility.
He said lots of people ask at the shelter about boarding, especially those who are taking all-day jet boat rides.
Barke said boarding is a fantastic source of revenue, but could create a huge liability issue.
She said she tried offering boarding at her office, but found she needed to staff it at strange hours so people could drop off or pick up their pets.
Barke said people also had no proof of rabies shots for their pets, and one pet could bring kennel-cough into the facility.
She said those who have operated good boarding facilities have experienced burnout.
Nagel said he was talking about boarding a limited number of animals. He said he wasnt thinking of doing it right away, but thought it might be feasible in the future.
On another issue, Nagel said he wanted to build a roof and some walls for the Brookings holding pen with donated lumber.
He said he leaves dogs picked up in Brookings in the pen for up to three days to allow time for their owners to claim them.
The pen gives Animal Control a bad image now, he said. People call to complain about dogs looking wet and cold.
Barke said improving the pen could be a waste of resources if the new South Coast Humane Society shelter opens within a month.
She said Animal Control should look into a reciprocal agreement with the society so officers could drop dogs off there temporarily, and members in Gold Beach could drop off strays at the county shelter day or night.
Barke said putting the dogs in an enclosed, temperature-controlled facility would leave a better impression with the public.
The goal should be working with the South Coast Humane Society, she said.
We have to make the public think were doing a superb job, she said. The money could go to better things than a roof, like paying Sandys salary.
Barke said if the officers can use the societys facility in Brookings, the Brookings holding pen could possibly be used in Port Orford.
Garayalde said Port Orford does need a holding pen, but the city and police department are going in circles on the issue.
County Commissioner Rachelle Schaaf, liaison to Animal Control, said the societys shelter is not open yet, and it also has a new director.
She said Animal Control will talk with the society, but shouldnt count on anything yet.
Members then asked Schaaf what kind of support Animal Control could expect from the county in the next fiscal year.
Schaaf said she doubted the commissioners would approve $46,000 from the general fund, as they did this year.
She said she would advocate for as much as $35,000, but couldnt speak for the others.
Barke asked what would happen if Animal Control lost Gilkey, who she said made leaps and bounds in generating revenue.
Gilkey said she had generated $5,000 for the shelter, as of last month. She estimated total shelter revenue to be $53,000 for the fiscal year.
She said she now sends out second notices for license renewals, which results in more renewals and an extra $5 fee for each one. She also follows up to make sure adopted dogs get their rabies shots.
Members complimented the staff on how much better the shelter has looked and smelled during the past few months.
Barke said the shelter took a leap forward each time when Garayalde, Gilkey and Nagel arrived.
The more proficient you become, she said, the more money you will get, and the more staff you can hire. A defeatist attitude is not going to cut it here.
The committee agreed to meet in the commissioners hearing room at 6 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month.
The next meeting will be Jan. 3, when members will outline proposals to be considered by the South Coast Humane Society at its January meeting.