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News / Clark County News

Humane Society agrees to contract with county

By Erik Hidle
Published: April 4, 2013, 5:00pm

Clark County and the Humane Society for Southwest Washington have an accord on a one-year contract to operate animal shelter services.

The Humane Society sent a letter to the county Thursday night stating it will accept the one-year counterproposal that county commissioners offered in March.

“We pretty much agreed to everything they asked for,” said Stacey Graham, president and executive director of the Humane Society’s local chapter. “I think the board feels like it’s really important that we are here to take care of the animals, and to meet the expectations of the community.”

The contract will still need to be finalized by county commissioners, but essentially the Humane Society agrees to everything the board requested in its counterproposal.

Graham said the hope is that the agreement will keep the two sides working together as the Humane Society prepares to increase the fees it charges the county.

“We hope this gives us time to work with commissioners to understand what we do, why it costs that and help them feel comfortable,” Graham said. “What we charge and what it costs (to house an animal) is pretty far apart right now.”

The letter from the Humane Society explains the reason the group is requesting a raise in charges, and asks for a workshop to be scheduled within 60 days so both sides can plan for a contract in 2014.

The one-year contract brings the amount the county pays to house a stray animal from $120 per animal to $132.50 per animal for the time it is in the shelter.

The county is legally required to house stray animals it picks up. The law requires that animals be kept for three days or, if they are properly licensed, for five days. Since the county doesn’t have an animal shelter of its own, it contracts for service with the Humane Society.

In 2012, the county paid the Humane Society $265,000.

The society’s original two-year proposal asked for $145 per animal in 2014.

Humane Society representatives say they’re asking for the increase because they’ve put off requesting them in the past. Now, with the cost of doing business on the rise, they say the county needs to pay its fair share. Graham said the actual cost to keep an animal is $170 over the mandatory holding period.

That original, two-year contract offer was balked at last month when Commissioner David Madore said he wanted to see some more information on the nonprofit’s salaries. At that time, Commissioners Tom Mielke and Steve Stuart approved the one-year contract as a compromise.

Madore later said he had seen the salaries and believed they were appropriate, but had discovered additional information on comparable salaries that made him hesitant to move forward.

Through the discussion, Mielke has stood by the one-year contract, saying he wants to see additional information on the matter. That information is likely to be provided if the county agrees to a workshop with the Humane Society.

Erik Hidle: 360-735-4547; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov ; erik.hidle@columbian.com.