County panel backs animal shelter adoption fee increase

County panel backs animal shelter adoption fee increase

DANVILLE - Vermilion County officials are planning to make building improvements and boost medical care at the county animal shelter, They also hope to boost revenues by increasing animal adoption fees that currently do not cover expenses at the facility on Catlin-Tilton Road.

Vermilion County Board Chairman Gary Weinard said the county would like to improve the ventilation system at the shelter for the benefit of the employees and the animals and consider some sound-deadening options in the kennel areas where the barking of the dogs can be overwhelming. He said the county also is considering hiring a veterinarian technician, which he said would be "doable from a budget standpoint."

County officials Thursday night presented to the county board's health and education committee a proposal to increase animal adoption fees at the county shelter, which would boost the operation's bottom line. The five members who attended the meeting all voted in favor of the fee increase, which still needs final approval from the full county board.

The shelter's current adoption fee is $80 for dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, and that fee includes spaying/neutering, rabies vaccination, rabies tag, distemper vaccination, de-worming, health exam by a local veterinarian, microchip, pet food, collar and leash. For senior citizens adopting an animal the fee is $50. The fees have not been increased since 2006, and David Tyas, assistant director of the animal shelter, said the cost of vaccinations, food, sterilizations and medications have continued to increase.

He said the average cost to get a dog or puppy ready to be considered for adoption ranges from $104.75 to $121.75, and the $80 adoption fee obviously does not cover that. For cats and kittens, the average cost to ready them for adoption ranges from $85.75 to $94.

The proposal calls for increasing the adoption fee for dogs over 40 pounds to $125, dogs under 40 pounds to $150, puppies (under 6 months old) to $175 and cats and kittens under 1 year old to $85. The adoption fee for cats over 1 year would actually decrease to $60. Senior citizens over 65 years old who want to adopt an animal would get a $40 discount, and any adoptable animals over 8 years old, the adoption fee would remain at $80.

Tyas said the cat fee would decrease, because the shelter has so many cats, and their adoption rate is much lower, so he hopes that lowering the fee will encourage more cat adoptions.

Vermilion County Board member Bill Wright said at Thursday night's meeting that it's a good plan that he believes will help the shelter remain viable.

Board members asked Tyas if the increase in fees would negatively impact adoptions.

Tyas said when the fees were increased in 2006, adoptions did not decrease, but the fees were increased very slightly that year. He said this is a significant increase, and the shelter could lose some adoptions as a result, but he has no way of knowing for sure.

Weinard told the county board committee that it's prudent to move forward with these plans even though there has been discussion in the last year about the county merging its animal shelter and animal control department with the city's animal control responsibilities.

The county has its own animal control officers and shelter, which houses animals that are surrendered or picked up by the county's animal control officers, who serve all the unincorporated areas of the county and any municipalities that pay the county to do their animal control. The county does not serve Danville, which pays the Humane Society of Danville to hire animal control officers who enforce its animal control ordinances, and the humane society, which is a nonprofit organization, operates its own shelter that adopts animals that have either been surrendered or not claimed after being picked up by animal control officers.

Weinard said he believes the county needs to move forward with plans for its own shelter regardless whether discussions on a combined effort between the city and county take shape or not.

In comparison to the county's proposed increase in adoption fees, the Danville Humane Society shelter charges $107.50 for a dog or puppy and $92.50 for a cat or kitten, and those fees include a city tag, microchip, spaying or neutering and rabies deposit for a vaccination by a local veterinarian.

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