County considers funding for animal shelterDouglas County is considering a proposal to help fund a new animal shelter in the city of Superior.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Douglas County is considering a proposal to help fund a new animal shelter in the city of Superior.
Funding would be contingent on the city building a 9,600 square foot shelter, one large enough to accommodate animals countywide.
Currently, Animal Allies provides care and services to about 900 animals annually for the city of Superior; the Humane Society of Douglas County provides care to about 300 animals for rural communities in Douglas County.
Depending on the size of the shelter the city decides to build, the two organizations could merge into one in a single facility to accommodate animals countywide.
Part of the hang up has been funding. While the city of Superior has sufficient money to build a 6,400 square foot shelter, it would only be large enough to serve stray animals in the city.
Regardless of the size of the shelter, it’s a pretty substantial undertaking, which will result in recurring costs for operation, said Douglas County Administrator Andy Lisak.
The larger facility would require additional funding for operations, something Mayor Bruce Hagen said city residents shouldn’t bear alone if the shelter accommodates animals from rural communities outside the city.
The county is considering offering $410,000 in support over a period of 10 years.
“This is one thing that we’re not mandated to do,” Lisak said. “But we can choose to do it.”
Lisak said while the city is looking for a 30-year commitment, it’s not something the county is obligated to do. He said while he recognizes the county’s commitment falls short of meeting the city’s need, it doesn’t make sense for the county to take on the added burden when there is no obligation to do so.
Under state law, animal control issues are the responsibility of municipalities.
However, garnering support from the towns and villages that would benefit from the new shelter has been met with resistance from local officials outside Superior.
“It’s an opportunity to help out,” said Supervisor Dan Corbin, who is skeptical about the projected costs for the shelter. “It’s an opportunity to put our name on this.”
He said the real issue is where rural communities are going to put their animals if there is no other alternative. After all, the county humane society is dealing with a number of building insufficiencies on its own, and one shelter to serve the whole county could solve those issues.
If we do help with this, at the same time, Corbin said he wants the towns to realize they have some responsibility for the shelter too.
“They need to push dog licenses to help defray these costs,” Corbin said. “I expressed that they have some responsibility for this.”
However, for Douglas County, a concern remains how the county will pay for it, said Supervisor Nick Baker, who reminded fellow members of the executive committee this week the county has had to look for alternative sources of funding to continue support of organizations it has long funded like the Development Association and Chamber of Commerce.