“The annual donation by the Nodaway County Commissioners has declined dramatically over the past five years,” NNHS board president Doug Sutton said. “It went from $12,000 in 2004 to absolutely zero funding in 2009 even though we continued animal control service without change or charge to our residents. We also experienced a State-mandated wage increase of $25,000 with no government support. So we have to reduce our expenses with what is already a very lean budget.”
The NNHS shelter is unique among others since it is operated by a not-for-profit and funded through community animal control agreements, donations, grants, fundraisers and humane society memberships rather than a specific county or city tax. Sutton agrees that having “Nodaway” in the humane society’s name has caused confusion among the public, casting the perception that it is a county-funded shelter.
“The name reflects the geographical nature of the society’s mission in the county, but it is not a county-operated facility,” he said. “To respect the wishes of a past donor, the humane society agreed to preserve the name. Hopefully we can spread the word and clear up this confusion.”
For many years, the NNHS provided animal control services to all of Nodaway County’s rural areas, accounting for a large percentage of animals brought into the shelter. When board members learned the county commissioners had refused to make an annual donation this year, the NNHS offered to create an animal control agreement similar to area communities. The Nodaway County Commissioners declined.
“They told us that since they have no legal obligation to support the shelter nor are required to be involved in animal control unless there is an outbreak of Rabies, they will contribute to the shelter if voters approve a specific tax for it,” Sutton said. “However, it is our sincere wish that the Nodaway County Commissioners reconsider because animal control prevents such outbreaks. It is best to be proactive rather than reactive to protect our community.”
Without support from the county, the NNHS determined it was unfair to provide animal control for free when other local communities are paying for equal service. The new policy will affect any resident who does not live within the city limits of a community the NNHS has an animal control contract with. If a resident lives outside the city limits of these communities or in a rural area, including any residential subdivisions located outside city limits, he or she will not be able to simply drop off an animal. Any resident can still adopt or reclaim an animal.
“There are a variety of alternatives we have created to help make this tough transition go more smoothly by working together,” Sutton said
If a stray is found, please contact the animal shelter so staff members can take a report. A person can also bring the animal by the shelter to have it scanned for an ID microchip. At that time, shelter staff will take a picture and keep it with the person’s contact information in case the owner comes forward.
If the resident lives inside the city limits of Maryville, he or she can still drop off the animal for free. If a person is a resident of a community that has an animal control agreement with the NNHS, please contact the shelter first so staff can coordinate a pick-up with the city council’s approval.
“Even though the animal shelter cannot take care of the animal, we still want to help,” Sutton said. “If the person is able to give a donation to the animal shelter to help offset the cost of the care for the animal and we have space, we will take it. However, that cost will be $70, the same as it is for our community animal control agreements. We understand people might find that high, but this covers food, shelter and veterinarian bills until the animal is reclaimed or adopted. That adds up.”
If the person declines to temporarily care for the animal until an owner is found or make a donation to cover the cost of shelter care, he or she must contact the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Office.
“Abandoning an animal is a crime, and the sheriff’s department should be notified,” Sutton said. “The owner may be guilty of abandonment, neglect or abuse. We must work together to protect animals and the public from irresponsible or careless owners. To help restore the original policy, we ask residents to please contact the Nodaway County Commission to let the leadership know how important the animal shelter and its mission are to the community.