Changes needed at pound?
If your pet is caught by the Faribault County animal control officer it probably will end up at the Blue Earth city pound located along Highway 16.
On this particular day, the temperatures are nearing 80 and it is humid.
Inside the white, 14-by-20 building a dog barks as the front door opens and the lights are turned on. A fan placed in the facility’s one window is the only source of fresh, cool air.
“There is definitely a need for a new pound. The city is spending money but they could do better,” says Todd Heenan, the county’s animal control officer.
Staci Thompson of Blue Earth and Sue Mensing of Winnebago agree.
Both believe the building is inadequate and care of the animals could be improved.
Cross ventilation, an office, an onsite computer system and an area for the pets to walk around are just some changes Heenan would like to see.
Recently, Mensing began caring for a dog seized some seven weeks ago from a Wells farm where abuse of animals allegedly occurred.
“If that’s suppose to be protective custody, I don’t want to see what abuse looks like,” Thompson says of the dog’s current condition.
“You can literally see bones in his body sticking out. If my dog looked like that I would be arrested,” Thompson adds.
The two women have talked with Heenan to see what can be done to upgrade conditions at the pound. Forming an animal humane society or similar organization have been discussed.
For the current year, the city budgeted $10,933 for animal control services. Nearly $8,000 of that amount is used for personnel expenses, with the remainder for the shelter.
Faribault County auditor John Thompson says last year $1,700 was spent on animal control. He says that includes Heenan’s hours, mileage and various pound services.
“If someone has an issue and they don’t like the way its being funded then they better find another way to pay for it,” says Councilman Glenn Gaylord.
Thompson says gathering information to secure funding for improvements at the shelter or seek other alternatives has been overwhelming.
“We just want to make what’s there better. As a society, we can do better,” she says.
Heenan says he supports any efforts aimed at improving care given to strays.
“We should be providing a full service, right now it is half of what we should be doing. There’s a lot of room for improvement,” Heenan says. The current building is able to accommodate three full-size dogs, two medium-sized and three cats at any given time.
Heenan says more space is needed. He estimates $20,000 would be enough to build a better facility at the present site.
The number of calls reporting an animal running at-large, he says, is a growing problem. An ailing economy may be part of the blame in the increase.
Heenan says some people, unable to afford their pet, take them out on a country road and abandon them.
So far this year Heenan has had 450 calls, which include cats.
“I’ve had 33 calls this month already, and it’s getting worse,” he says, explaining there are still 11 days left in the month.
Last year, $608 in “animal control” revenue was collected. In the first seven months of this year, $1,770 has been paid to the city.
When an animal has been caught its owner is charged a $20 fee, plus $22 each day it is kept at the pound. If it is not claimed in seven days it is put to sleep.
In 2006, 22 dogs and cats were euthanized. That number jumped to 35 last year. So far this year there has been six.
Heenan says every effort is made to find homes for strays. He says his wife helps by spending hours on the Internet looking for people who want a pet.
“She’s found people in Ohio and Illinois. She’s even driven 3 1/2 hours to deliver a dog to someone,” he says.
Thompson says a meeting will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Blue Earth Library meeting room to discuss alternatives to the shelter.
Interested persons are welcome to attend and can call Thompson at (507) 526-5141 or Mensing at (507) 526-7403 for more information.