Archive for Friday, April 6, 2012

Committee likely to recommend no additional funding for Leavenworth County animal control

A stray cat, picked up this past weekend near Basehor-Linwood High School, rests at the city of Basehor’s temporary animal holding facility at the city’s water treatment plant. Finding new homes for stray animals has become costly for the city since it adopted a no-kill policy.

A stray cat, picked up this past weekend near Basehor-Linwood High School, rests at the city of Basehor’s temporary animal holding facility at the city’s water treatment plant. Finding new homes for stray animals has become costly for the city since it adopted a no-kill policy.

April 6, 2012

A group tasked with studying the stray-pet problem in rural Leavenworth County has emerged with the conclusion that there may not be much of a problem at all — or at least little evidence of one.

And though one local animal advocate takes issue with the committee’s finding, county administrator Patrick Hurley said he would likely pass on a recommendation to county commissioners that they decline to provide funding for animal-control services in their 2013 budget.

“We just did not find data that indicated there was a need for the Sheriff’s Office to be beefed up,” Hurley said.

But Leavenworth County Humane Society president Crystal Swann Blackdeer, a member of the committee along with Hurley, said she was convinced that stray or abandoned pets presented a major problem in rural parts of the county.

“I’m not sure we really accomplished the panel’s mission,” Blackdeer said.

Sheriff’s officials asked county commissioners last summer for about $70,000 to hire two part-time animal control officers, saying the department was receiving too many calls regarding stray animals that deputies weren’t equipped to handle. Because of a lack of resources, Sheriff’s officers don’t pick up stray pets unless they’re presenting a safety issue.

But during January and February of this year, while Sheriff’s officials were tracking such calls for the purposes of the animal-control committee, they apparently dropped off in frequency. According to a report from undersheriff Ron Cranor, the department received 59 animal-related calls during those months, on pace for about 360 for the year. During the past five years, that number has ranged between about 540 and 670.

Only 20 of those calls related to dogs, and none had to do with cats, while 24 were reporting problems with farm animals.

Hurley presented that information to committee members at the group’s final meeting Wednesday, saying he didn’t believe the data supported the funding of animal-control services, he said. The committee arrived at a similar consensus, he said.

Blackdeer, though, said the committee — which consisted of county officials and volunteers — had not dug into what those numbers really mean. She saw the statistics for the first time at Wednesday’s meeting, she said.

“Nobody really had a chance to digest it and compare it to other numbers we’d been given in the past,” Blackdeer said.

She said the Humane Society — which does not have a shelter and is not licensed to pick up stray animals —received calls from about three residents per week about stray or abandoned pets in rural Leavenworth County. She guessed that perhaps residents had stopped calling the Sheriff’s Office about strays because they were aware the department was not able to pick them up.

Cranor acknowledged that could have something to do with the drop-off in calls. In any case, the problem is difficult to measure, he said.

“All of this is supposition,” Cranor said. “You don’t know what the facts are.”

And supposition is not enough to warrant additional funding from taxpayers for an animal-control force, Hurley said.

“You could speculate on anything,” Hurley said. “What I tried to do is look at actual data.”

County Commissioner John Flower, too, said he would be hesitant to commit funds to animal control without demonstration of a widespread problem, though he said he understood the concerns of those who’ve encountered stray or abandoned animals.

“It’s very real to the person who experiences it at the time,” Flower said, “but is it repeated enough to ask 75,000 citizens to spend more money to address the issue?”

Blackdeer plans to begin keeping records on the complaints she receives about strays in order to provide some sort of statistical evidence, she said, and she said she would encourage residents to call the Sheriff’s Office to demonstrate the need for services, as well. But quantifying the problem is going to be difficult, she said.

“I think until someone starts picking them up and taking responsibility, it’s going to be difficult to really understand how big of a problem it is,” Blackdeer said.

She said she fears that commissioners won’t put money toward the problem until something tragic — a rabies infection or a traffic accident resulting from a stray animal — captures their attention. Flower, though, said that a county animal-control force is not off the table. He said he would even consider providing funding in the 2013 budget to investigate the matter further.

“The answer’s not ‘No,’ ” Flower said. “It’s just ‘Not now.’ ”

Comments

Old_Vet 2 years, 8 months ago

Animal control is handled locally. If a stray dog or feral cat was a bother we would shoot them. Saved the county a lot of money and resources not having to round up, care for, feed, shelter and adopt out unwanted nuisance animals. Still think that feral cats should be considered vermin and shot on sight. They kill millions of song birds every year. We used to handle it just fine.

Good for the commission for standing up against the county animal rights activist. We don't need to spend money on a dead-issue.

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nonbeliever 2 years, 8 months ago

Old_Vet is allowed to express his opinion "thanks" to the "vets" who serve our country to give us this right. Thank you and all who served. My opinion of the shelter issue is totally opposite of Old_Vet for many reasons. "Animal rights activist"...sounds like an insult to an individual who is trying to make things better for all people and animals of this county. People who are involved with the stray and abused animal population (which continues to grow) of the county know the numbers are never going to be reported accurately because we have hit brick walls for so many years looking for help with this problem. It is heartbreaking to know of animals--"pets" (most often) that are dumped in the county with no concern for the animal's welfare or the county resident that wind up dealing with "their"(the cowardly former owner) problem. Most times the pet is neither spayed or neutered--sometimes the females are already pregnant...so the problem continue to multiply... They starve, get hit by cars or find food any way they can--this applies to "feral cats", too. I love birds--feed them year round--Hawks kill more of the songbirds in my area than any feral cat. There has to be a solution to the problem of stray and abused animals. As the economy worsens pets are considered more and more disposable. How the county continues to ignore this issue is unimaginable.. put this question on a county wide ballot and allow taxpayers to make a decision... As to the "vermin" comment and shooting on sight--that method could reduce the number of human vermin that are fed and sheltered in this county! What a savings that would be.

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12345 2 years, 8 months ago

So what's your solution?

If it's having animal control pick them up, house them in a shelter for two weeks, then call a vet in to put them to sleep - I think old vet's solution is less expensive and more humane!

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Old_Vet 2 years, 8 months ago

So nonbeliever, when and where do we draw the line on compassion? Mosquitoes or what about roaches? Rats and mice? A feral cat or a wild dog is a menace; it should be destroyed by the cheapest, quickest, easiest method.

Soon we'll have to call animal control to remove a mouse from the basement. Mouse traps are so inhumane, sometimes not killing the mouse but instead maiming it. The mouse should be captured, taken to a shelter, provided veterinarian care and slowly released back into the wild. Or perhaps the home declared a mouse sanctuary, move the owners out to receive state housing and assistance while the mice enjoy their habitat.

We should stop eating beef, pork and poultry and subsist solely on tofu and vegetables.

Or...I'll just have my bloody rare steak after a day on the farm and if I see a stray dog or feral cat, what the county don't know, won't hurt them.

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nonbeliever 2 years, 8 months ago

Must be a generation thing--your choice of "vermin" compared to stray animals is like comparing apples to oranges.. There is no easy or cheap solution to this issue. Leavenworth county residents have wrestled with this for years. The problem is not going away and will continue to grow unless a county wide shelter is established. There are some ways of lessening the problems-educate about what it "really"means to have an animal, spay and neuter programs that everyone can afford, putting an end to puppy mills and dog fighting that goes on locally..Some of these would require a police officer to be involved but not all the solutions do. Leavenworth county prides itself on being such a "forward thinking" county..we can certainly say we are a leader in animal neglect.

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