FUTURE OF COUNTY'S ANIMAL SHELTER STILL IN LIMBO

April 04, 2001 12:00 am

GOLD BEACH The Curry County Animal Shelter is still deeply in debt and an offered $10,000 donation from the South Coast Humane Society is not looking as certain as it was last week.

Animal Control Supervisor Trig Garayalde attended a meeting of the humane society Monday night and learned there will be a donation, but the amount is still being discussed.

He and Commissioner Cheryl Thorp had hoped they would come out of the meeting with a $10,000 check to help keep the shelter open through June.

Garayalde said that he heard the next day, however, that the humane society will donate the full $10,000.

Even with that, said Curry County Commissioner Marlyn Schafer, the shelter would be about $8,000 short for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Schafer said the shelter received about $4,000 in donations and sold $2,724 in licenses during the past month.

At the commissioners meeting Monday morning, Garayalde said more cash is needed.

We love to see donations of dog food, he said, but we love money even more.

To help raise funds, the shelter is auctioning off a large stained glass work donated by artist Ardith Deirdie of Smith River.

Garayalde said the glass piece depicting an eagle was assessed by a gallery association to be worth $1,400. The shelter is asking for a minimum donation of $1,000.

For more information, call Garayalde at the shelter at (541) 247-2514.

While the shelter is having trouble digging out of this years budget deficit, the outlook is just as bleak for the next fiscal year.

Garayalde asked for $46,000 from the county general fund. The commissioners say they dont have it.

The humane society has discussed taking over animal control from the county, said Garayalde, but is split on the idea.

He said the society has enough to worry about right now trying to get its own shelter up and running in Brookings.

He said hes enjoyed working with the humane society, but the challenges of animal control are different than what the society is used to.

He said the society sometimes has the luxury of passing on the most unadoptable animals to the county shelter.

The shelter has to make tougher choices when faced with animals too sick, old or vicious to be adopted.

Garayalde thought a better alternative would be to try to pass a special levy to keep the county shelter running.

He said the amount for each property owner would be miniscule, and predicted the voters of the county wouldnt let the animals down.

The commissioners also discussed raising dog license fees to help the shelter support itself.

Garayalde said the county now charges $8 for dogs who have been spayed or neutered. The state mandates a rate not less than $25 for other dogs.

Schafer suggested raising the $8 fee to $15, or $10 for dogs owned by senior citizens 60 and above. In return, said Schafer, owners would no longer be charged to have their licensed dogs returned to them.

The owners of unlicensed pets would be charged the $15 license fee, plus a $30 impound fee and a $25 fine for failure to license, along with $7.50 a day to defray the cost of room and board. Schafer was worried many owners would just give up their dogs at that price.

La Bont questioned the senior discount. She said families with children often have even less money to spend on pets.

I cant imagine someone with a dog who cant pay $15, she said.

I have a problem with giving one segment of the population a break.

Citizens at the meeting also had suggestions for the shelter.

Walt Edwards of Gold Beach said he was most concerned with the people who are not licensing their dogs.

He suggested letting organizations earn a dollar or two for each license they could sell.

La Bont said, What a great idea, and asked Garayalde what he thought of it.

He said it might work in Harbor, but he wouldnt want groups, especially childrens groups, going into the backwoods homes to sell licenses.

Schafer said licenses are more important in the populated areas anyway.

Edwards questioned waiving the impound fees and fines for licensed dogs who are picked up. He said it would make it more likely that people would let their animals run loose.

Jack Pruitt of Port Orford said licensed dogs should be exempted from any return fees the first time they are picked up, but after that the fees should be raised each time.

Elaine Edwards suggested sending out letters to veterinarians from Smith River to Bandon asking them to have their clients verify their dog licenses. Names of those without licenses would be sent to the county.

La Bont said because licenses require rabies shots, licensing is a health issue for the entire dog population.

Schafer said since shelter fees cant be raised again until July 1, the county has time to let Garayalde strategize with interested citizens on shelter solutions.

He said hed be glad to work with concerned citizens like the Edwards and Gloria Rodgers.

He wants to simplify the fee structure.