Humane Society wants county to double funding

Friday, September 27, 2002

The local animal shelter is begging for more money -- twice as much from the Cape Girardeau County government for next year.

The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri wants the county to pay $16,980 in 2003, up from $8,300 this year. Most of the money -- $15,000 -- would go for handling animals picked up by the county's animal control officer. The other $1,980 would help fund repairs to the shelter's crematory, said Donna Ernest, executive director of the local humane society.

The crematory is used to dispose of cats and dogs euthanized by the shelter. The shelter killed more than 3,000 unwanted animals last year or about 63 percent of the animals it received at its site at 2536 Boutin Drive off Route W.

Ernest requested the increased funding at Thursday's meeting of the Cape Girardeau County Commission in Jackson. Commissioners said they likely would act on the request within the next few weeks.

Gerald Jones, presiding commissioner, said the funding request comes when county officials are keeping a close eye on expenses. "Our budget is going to be awfully tight," he said.

Ernest said later in the day that the Humane Society simply wants the county to pay its fair share. "We have not been charging what we should have been based on the costs of keeping animals," she said.

Last year, it cost over $38 per animal to operate the shelter, she said. The humane society spent $184,621 to operate the shelter, which handled 4,791 animals.

The county and the cities of Cape Girardeau and Jackson spend a combined $44,200 to help fund the shelter, which receives animals from an 18-county area including parts of Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois.

Adoption fees generate about $36,000 a year. But the bulk of the funding comes from donations, Ernest said.

The city of Cape Girardeau pays $30,900 a year to the shelter. The city of Jackson pays $5,000 a year, but will be asked to pay more next year, Ernest said.

Cape Girardeau already is paying a fair amount, she said.

Ernest said both the cities, in addition to the county, will be asked to help pay for the repairs to the crematory. The repairs -- replacing concrete and bricks worn out from the extreme heat of the furnace -- are expected to cost nearly $10,000. Repairs are planned to begin in October.

The Humane Society wants Cape Girardeau to pay $1,980, the same as requested of the county. Jackson will be asked to contribute over $1,100.

"We will absorb the rest of the cost," she said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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