The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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February 6, 2013

Humane Society won’t accept animals from city

Veto means city has to adjust how it carries out law

CLINTON — The Clinton Humane Society is no longer accepting animals from the city of Clinton or Clinton residents following Mayor Mark Vulich’s veto of the humane society contract on Monday.

Instead, the city is operating on a case-by-case basis to impound animals as required by Iowa law.

Vulich on Monday vetoed the humane society contract that was passed on Jan. 22 by the City Council on a 5-2 vote.

The contract included a $120,000 subsidy to the agency, an increase from a $65,000 subsidy. He also vetoed the formation of a committee tasked with investigating possible cost savings for the contract.    

According to Humane Society Operations Manager Sandi Bartels, her agency will still take animals from Camanche and other towns that have contracts with the Humane Society, but will no longer accept animals from Clinton because of the mayor’s veto. Anyone dropping off an animal will be required to show a driver’s license.   

Bartels said she and her staff were troubled to learn of Vulich’s decision Monday afternoon.  

“We are devastated because we don’t know what’s going to happen to the animals,” Bartels said.

The Humane Society’s contract with the city expired on Feb. 1, meaning when the mayor vetoed the new contract, the humane society and the city were left with no agreement in place.

A third resolution that was passed by the council calls for the pursuit of a contract with local vet, All Pets. That proposal calls for a $40,000 subsidy in order to take in dogs and cats brought in only by the city, not from residents. However, no contract is in place between the city and All Pets, leaving the city with no contract for animal control services.    

By law, the city is only required to apprehend and impound dangerous dogs and dogs running at large. The city is required to impound the animal for seven days after the owner has been notified. After seven days the city can euthanize the animal. The law does not stipulate any requirements for the care of cats.

According to Police Chief Brian Guy, the animal control officer has been temporarily reassigned and will only respond to emergency calls regarding dangerous dogs, biting dogs or dogs running at large in order to comply with the statutory requirements.

The small number of animals at the Humane Society that were still considered the city’s were picked up by the animal control officer Tuesday afternoon and delivered to All Pets, according to Guy.  

“We’re asking for the public’s patience and understanding until a resolution can be worked out," Guy said.

Any dogs apprehended by the city will then be impounded with any agency willing to work with the city, according to Interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser.

“It is within our purchasing policies to find a solution,” Kinser said.

According to Kinser, city purchasing policies stipulate that a department head has the authority to spend up to $2,000 on a service without approval. This will allow the city to deal with the animals it is required to by law without the direction of the council.

At-large City Councilman John Rowland plans to add the humane society contract resolution and the resolution forming the committee to Tuesday's city council agenda in order to get them both reapproved.

“I was astounded that he would veto without an alternative contract,” Rowland said. “I think it was very premature to veto at that particular moment.”

The resolutions would need to be approved 5-2 to override the mayor's veto. If the veto was overridden, the resolutions would become effective immediately.

Bartels said she would like to see both the resolution approving the contract and the resolution approving the formation of the committee to be reinstated so a cost-saving arrangement could be obtained.  

“I really hope something can be worked out. We want to work with the city,” Bartels said. “At least that gives us a chance to work something out in good faith. I hope the council will do what is best for the animals.”

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