Adoptions up, but not euthanization, at Vermilion animal shelter

Adoptions up, but not euthanization, at Vermilion animal shelter

DANVILLE — The Vermilion County Animal Shelter has been taking in nearly twice as many dogs and cats since assuming animal control duties for the city of Danville earlier this year. But the number of animals euthanized hasn't increased.

Paige Brown, director of the county's animal control department and shelter, said no healthy dogs or cats were put to death in February or March. That, she said, is because shelter staff and volunteers with the Vermilion County Animal Foundation have been working hard to line up adoptions or transfers to rescue organizations.

"Local adoptions are up," said Brown, who was recently hired by the county after charges of animal mistreatment were leveled against Danville's longtime partner — the local humane society.

For years, the non-profit humane society provided the city's animal control services, running its shelter (where it adopted out animals) and a thrift shop (which raised money to support the operation). But the organization came under increasing criticism in recent years for its alleged mistreatment of animals at its Collett Street facility.

After a turnover in leadership, the new volunteers halted animal control services to the city and now operate as a no-kill shelter.

Vermilion County Board Chairman Gary Weinard said the city of Danville has agreed to pay Vermilion County $8,000 a month to handle its animal control services. That would be $96,000 annually, or about $18,000 more than the city was paying the Humane Society of Danville.

Although the county and city do not yet have a written document detailing the agreement between them, there are general understandings about the partnership per an interim agreement, which has allowed the county to move forward with changes in its operation.

When the city studied merging animal control services with the county in 2012, it immediately turned to the county for an interim agreement. Since then, the county has created and filled the position of shelter supervisor and hired two additional animal control officers in addition to the county's two existing control officers.

Brown said the two city officers are still in training but answering calls in Danville. She said most of the city calls are for strays, and officers pick up several each day. Brown said they still don't know exactly what ordinances the city will want enforced.

The city's ordinances detail many provisions, including the removal of dead animals; the handling of rabid animals, public nuisance dogs and dangerous dogs; and requirements for spaying, neutering and licensing animals.

Brown said the new shelter supervisor is responsible for day-to-day operation of the kennel area, with the lead officer overseeing the animal control side of the operation. Both positions report to her.

"It makes everything a lot more smooth," Brown said.

Renovations are also underway at the animal shelter to better use existing space.

Brown said a large meeting room and extra storage space have been remodeled into office space and the main visitor entrance. That new entrance is for visitors buying rabies tags or adopting animals. The other entrance — what used to be main visitor entrance toward the west end of the building — will be the animal control side of the operation. Owners surrendering pets or people bringing in stray animals will use that entrance, she said.

Weinard said the added costs will "largely be offset by the city's contribution." He said the county doesn't intend to take advantage of the city, but it does need to cover the costs of the extra work.

"I think it will be good for both the city and the county. It probably should have happened earlier," he said. "The efficiencies of having one location and one organization to handle the animal control in the county will pay dividends in the long run."

The county's animal control operation and shelter do not pay for themselves. The county subsidizes the operation with money from its general fund each year.

Last year, the operation's annual expenses totaled $465,095 while its revenues added up to $420,300, including $155,000 from the county's general fund.

The county slightly increased its adoption fees recently after a previous proposal to raise them drastically was shot down by county board members.

"Revenues do not meet the expenses," Weinard said. "We would have to raise the adoption fees so high that it's probably not realistic," Weinard said. "We try to do as much as we can to see the animals are adopted or rescued, so they can have a good life. That's admirable, and I'm in favor of that.

"It's a mark of a civilized culture when you can care for things that can't care for themselves."

On the web

To see animals available for adoption, visit the Vermilion County Animal Shelter's page on Facebook.

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sweet caroline wrote on April 07, 2014 at 4:04 pm

God bless the VCAS volunteers and staff for working so diligently and compassionately to save our precious animals.  I love this shelter and encourage everyone looking for a pet to make VCAS their first stop!