Englewood OKs Humane Society Funding

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Englewood City Council tentatively approved the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley’s request for $41,000 in addition to the $50,000 already paid for the services for this year, but emphasized they want to see changes made in the funding structure and the way the shelter operates.

“The humane society is asking for an additional $41,000 each from Englewood and Littleton to maintain operations for the rest of this year,” Mike Flaherty, deputy city manager, said as he introduced the issue to the council at the June 4 meeting. “This additional funding is the financial solution for the remainder of this year. The goal is to seek a better funding system for next year and for future years.”

The council gave consensus approval to the request and will bring the resolution up for formal adoption at the June 18 council meeting. The consensus vote also approved seeking changes in the extra services provided by the humane society and finding other additional sources of funding.

There was a discussion of supporting the effort by Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman, who seeks to convince Arapahoe County to set up an animal control system built on the model of the one established by Jefferson County, with the county operating the animal shelter and each community in the county paying a fee for the shelter services.

Mayor Randy Penn said he favors supporting Mayor Brinkman’s proposal. He also wants to make an effort to have Arapahoe County contribute more to the humane society this year.

“The humane society services are costing Englewood $91,000 this year,” he said. “The city just can’t afford to continue paying that much for these services.”

Before giving his consensus approval to the additional funding, Councilmember Rick Gillit said there really isn’t an alternative because the humane society is the only source of animal control services available to Englewood, thus it is like the city being held hostage.

In the letter accompanying the request for additional funds, Nick Fisher, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley, cited higher costs and lower-than-expected revenues as the reason for the facility’s financial problems.

In the letter, Fisher explained that when the original contracts were signed with Englewood and Littleton in 2009, the society had no statistical model to use to establish fees, and it set the figure to care for animals brought into the shelter by animal control officers at $200 each.

He said the experience of the last two years has determined the cost of care is about $300 per animal.

Another society financial issue was less-than-expected governmental funding. When the society was being set up in 2009, expectations were that four governmental agencies would contract for society services at $50,000 each.

Englewood and Littleton signed contracts with the society and provided the $50,000 each. But, while Arapahoe County and Centennial both indicated interest in contracting for the services, they did not sign contracts. Recently, Arapahoe County did sign up with the humane society and the fee was $30,000. Centennial chose to sign a contract with Pikes Peak Humane Society for complete animal control services.

The South Platte society provides services for Sheridan, Lone Tree, Cherry Hills Village and Columbine Valley as well as Englewood and Littleton. But Fisher said the fees from the other agencies are small and Englewood and Littleton account for 80 percent of the animals brought to the shelter by governmental agencies’ animal control officers.

The society statistics accompanying a March 5 presentation showed there were about 1,800 animals brought to the shelter in 2011. Most were dogs and cats, but there were also rabbits, birds and reptiles.

The majority of animals coming to the shelter, more than 1,000, were brought in by individuals who were either giving up their pets or bringing in a stray animal.

Of the remaining 800 animals, Englewood and Littleton animal control officers each brought about 300 animals to the shelter.

Englewood and Littleton faced a problem in 2009 when the Colorado Attorney General’s Office was successful in legal action to have a court take over control of the Colorado Humane Society and appoint a custodian.

That left the two cities with no place to take lost or stray animals because the Colorado Humane Society had operated the Englewood-owned animal shelter on South Platte River Drive and had provided that service for several municipalities since 1991.

Fisher brought a proposal to establish the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley. The proposal moved forward with the financial assistance of Englewood and Littleton, and the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley opened for business at the Chenango address in late 2009.

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