Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter has one full-time veterinarian, one veterinary technician and six full-time animal control officers.
It’s not enough, said shelter manager Heidi Williams.
“We desperately need more vet assistants. We have a vet who performs thousands of surgeries and medical procedures every year and we don’t have backup,” she said.
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Voters in the Aug. 2 primary will be asked to support an eight-year 0.20 mile that would allow the shelter to add three staff members: an animal control officer, a veterinarian and a vet tech, Williams said.
In 2016, voters passed 0.24 miles for the shelter to build its current Mason site and expand staff to 11 positions, which have been filled over the past six years, Deputy County Comptroller Teri Morton said. Since expiring mileage funded those positions, she said the shelter needed new mileage to continue funding those jobs and add three more.
“These new positions would bring the total staff of ICACS to 30 full-time staff, with 16 funded from the general fund and 14 funded from mileage,” Morton wrote in a memo to the Law and Courts Committee about of the new proposal. “Additional staffing is expected to cost approximately $363,000 per year.”
If approved, the mileage would bring in about $1,685,500 in the first year, depending on the language of the ballot.
“For the sole purpose of maintaining financial support for the services and operations of the County Animal Control Program, including equipping, funding, and operating the services of the County Animal Control Program and Animal Shelter” , indicates part of the proposed mileage.
Morton said a taxpayer whose home has a assessed value of $75,000 would pay $15 a year. This is a decrease of about $3 from the expiry rate, which is 0.2393 due to a Headlee pullback.
Ingham County Commissioners passed the 2022 budget on October 26, 2021, which included a $211,288 increase for animal control beginning in 2021.
The Animal Control department operates on a budget of $2,759,755 and has 27 full-time staff.
Why does the shelter need the mileage?
Ingham County is overcrowded with cats, but the shelter has no room to board these cats and they are not required to keep them, Williams said.
If the mileage passes, Williams said the shelter can start a neuter trap release program for stray cats. The Michigan Humane Society, Macomb County Animal Control and Livingston County Animal Shelter are among other shelters in the state with the program.
The program would have kennels on hand for residents or staff to capture a stray cat and bring it to the shelter for neutering. After that, his ear is tilted and the animal is released.
“That will be the only solution to the cat overpopulation problem,” Williams said.
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Veterinary tech Sami Beckley operated on a number of animals on Wednesday. She was the only one there and said it was stressful and you had to multitask.
When the regular vet is out of the office, Beckley said she steps in for procedures.
“As I’m the only one who can do this job, I have to make sure everyone is trained and the animals are taken care of,” she said.
What happens if voters don’t go the mileage?
If voters don’t pass the mileage, Morton said, the three additional positions would go unfilled. And it is possible that the existing 11 positions of the current mileage funds will be eliminated.
“Or the county should identify other sources of funding for them or a combination of those two options,” Morton added.
Still, if it passes, Williams said the priority is getting people on board to create the TNR program.
“We want to start this program and we want to continue it,” she said.
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