For the first time in memory, the Marion County Board will not have to transfer funds to support the animal control program. But that doesn't mean all is well in the effort to enforce the purchase of dog tags.
The Community Relations Committee continued to express frustration Tuesday night with lack of cooperation with some veterinarians and dog owners. Animal Control Officer Ken Ferguson says cooperation ranges from complete to none at all.
"What I'm asking everyone to do at this point is at least put up a sign that they have to pay for the tag as well as the rabies vaccination. They can leave a check and staple it to the paperwork that is going to be mailed to me. If they would at least do that, it would work. But then we have other people who refuse to do anything to cooperate. Then there are others that make my life easy," said Ferguson. "I get it. All I have to do is check it, file it. It works."
Ferguson is left to follow up with some dog owners who obtained a tag when getting a rabies vaccination, but never followed up with payment.
"I've been working on paperwork for some time now. My concentration is on one vet only. I'm in the neighborhood of $3,500 of unpaid tag revenue because they refuse to collect them," said Ferguson.
Ferguson says some dog owners tell them they won't pay, while he's able to work out arrangements with others. Those who refuse to pay are being sent to the State's Attorney's office for violation of the state law requiring the purchase of dog tags. The committee agreed to re-visit vets who are refusing to cooperate to try and get their support.
The committee members noted state law requires the tags and sets the $10 cost differential between dogs that have been neutered and spayed and those that have not been.
The sale of the dog tags supports the county's animal control program. Its budget for next year anticipates the sale of $34,500 in dog tags, which isn't enough to pay the $36,000 fee charged by the city of Centralia for use of the city's dog pound. The budget also includes $24,000 for the animal control administrator's salary, $2,600 to pay a state mandated portion of the cost to neuter or spay a pet, and $11,000 for travel by the animal control officer. The fund is also used to pay for livestock killed by dogs, but there have been no claims so far this year.
The fund is expected to start the year with a balance of $58,000. The budget projects the fund will run in the red, with a $21,440 balance at the end of the year.