up arrow Stray dogs and cats are a public problem


Constant companionI’ve been waiting for this moment on Where’s Pom. The story where Lancaster and the mission of this blog combine. Unfortunately, this post covers some well traveled territory – the ongoing public battle between townships and the local Humane League. It was only last December that Lancaster Online covered the same story – Humane League raises fees and local townships start complaining publicly.

The breakdown of the problem goes something like this:

  • The local Humane League takes in about 12,000 animals a year, two thirds of which are cats.
  • The Humane League assumes costs for housing, feeding, and caring for strays caught in the county.
  • Local townships have no facilities to keep dogs and cats nabbed in their jurisdiction.
  • Townships pay a per capita fee to bring animals into the shelter.
  • The shelter argues that per capita fees are the only fair way to assess the costs of strays. In the absence of contracts and set fees, townships argue about exactly where an animal is found to avoid a “per animal” fees.

Just over half of Lancaster’s 60 municipalities have a contract with the Humane League for 2011. Contracts are up for renewal soon, and several more municipalities say they won’t pay due to budget constraints. Back in December, Manor Township reported hauling their strays to Berks County to avoid local fees. Given $3.50-$4.00 gas and the cost of paying an employee to drive a stray to Berks County, this hardly seems like a fiscally sound idea. Moreover, as writer Tom Knapp points out for municipalities, “The cost of doing business with the Humane League is up again this year, and some municipalities are looking at options for 2012. Short of building and staffing their own kennels, there aren’t many.”

Stray dogs and cats fall clearly into the realm of “public” problems–the kind of thing you pay local taxes to take care of. Feral cats are sometimes carriers of rabies, so considering most of the stray animals caught are cats, this is also a public safety issue. Municipalities are, of course, free to consider other shelters, but in the interest of fiscal stewardship, they should also consider the additional costs incurred in transportation and compensation to transport strays.

The Humane League of Lancaster County does an admirable job of caring for and placing stray dogs and cats. The cost of their service includes a personality matching service that helps match owners with animals that will better fit their lifestyle and needs thus assuring the animals won’t be returned. Local municipalities are ill equipped to provide this same service nor should they. This blog hopes the public complaining ends and that municipalities work quietly to resolve their differences with the Humane League and continue their working relationship.

Dog Shelter Loses Support
Stray Dogs A Costly Problem