Officials discuss humane society’s financial woes
by David Lazenby
Sep 18, 2010 | 1418 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At least one Jasper city official believes the Walker County Humane Society shelter may have to increase the frequency in which it puts unwanted animals to sleep in order to ensure the survival of the local agency.

During a Jasper City Council work session Thursday, officials discussed the struggling Jasper facility that reportedly lacks the financial support necessary to keep up with its ever-increasing workload.

Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey said he believes the city is paying more than its fair share for maintaining the facility located on Birmingham Avenue. The city and the county both pay approximately the same amount to the shelter each year, approximately $40,000.

Councilor Gary Cowen said county commissioners should be paying more than the city, considering they represent a larger number of constituents.

“If we pay 40 (thousand dollars), the county ought to be paying 120 (thousand dollars),” Cowen said. “We give much more per citizen.”

According to figures gathered during the 2000 census, more than 70,000 individuals reside in Walker County. About 14,000 of those county residents live within the Jasper city limits.

At a recent meeting of the Walker County Commission, Chairman Bruce Hamrick said the Commission can not afford to provide more to the shelter than the $40,000 that is already budgeted.

Carol Downs, who does the accounting for the local Humane Society, said last month the shelter is currently operating at a $6,000 per month deficit. At that rate, the shelter could close before the end of the year.

According to the agency’s website, the Walker County Humane Society shelter receives more than 5,000 dogs and cats each year. The facility has the space to house about 55 animals at a time.

Posey said because of insufficient funding, the local humane shelter may have to consider housing animals for a shorter time before they are put down. “I think they’d have no option,” he said.

The Alabama Code stipulates that each county “provide a suitable county pound and impounding officer for the impoundment of dogs and cats found running at large in violation of the provisions of this chapter.”

Cowen said “Theoretically, if the Humane Society closes, the citizens of Jasper — just like the citizens of Carbon Hill and incorporated areas of the county — could bring their dogs to the county courthouse almost and say ‘Here. You’ve got to handle this.’”