County looks to save on shelter fees

Published 8:31 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Decatur County commissioners voted Tuesday evening to make a change to the animal ordinance that should reduce the amount it pays annually to impound animals at the Bainbridge Animal Shelter.

Previously, the county’s animal ordinance stated that any animals picked up by the county’s animal control officer had to be kept for at least five days to give any owner a chance to claim the animal.

During that five days, if the animal went unclaimed, the county government was responsible for paying $15 per day, per animal to the shelter, which is operated by the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society.

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With the county picking up hundreds of animals—mostly dogs—running at large every year, the county paid the shelter tens of thousands of dollars each year.

County Administrator Tom Patton said the now-three-day holding period is the minimum length of time animals must be kept before they are put up for adoption or euthanized. It’s at the discretion of the animal shelter’s supervisors whether or not to keep animals beyond that time.

In cases in which animals turned in by the county animal control officer have tags and the owner is identified, the dog may be kept up to 14 days, but at the cost of the dog owner, according to the ordinance. Additionally, Georgia law now requires animal shelters to check whether animals have an electronic chip embedded under their skin that stores the owners’ information, Patton said.

Humane Society President Pam Immendorf, who was present Tuesday night, said the society supports the three-day holding period, in part because the former five-day period led to the shelter not having enough space to keep all the animals brought in to it.

“[County commissioners] had originally proposed a 15-day period when they drafted the ordinance,” Immendorf said. “We tried to talk them into a three-day period, which is what state law and the City of Bainbridge follow, but they insisted on five.”