Janesville, Beloit could work with Dane County Humane Society under plan
JANESVILLE The Janesville Police Department could hire two part-time civilian officers who would, among other duties, pick up stray and neglected animals.
The proposal is part of a potential deal between the cities of Janesville and Beloit and the Dane County Humane Society that could give both cities a haven for neglected and injured animals that the Rock County Humane Society will not accept.
The Dane County Humane Society would provide Janesville and Beloit with receiving and holding facilities for “owned” animals—those that are taken from owners because they’re ill or have been neglected or injured or are under a bite order, officials said.
The Rock County Humane Society collects and houses stray animals in Janesville, but it is “unwilling to accept owned animals, as it is not part of the contract the city has with the humane society,” Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said Friday.
Beloit city and police officials could not be reached Friday for details on the city’s contract with the Rock County Humane Society.
Owned cats and dogs make up a fraction of the animal control calls Janesville deals with, but they’re the animals in the most immediate need of attention, Moore said.
Some of the worst cases of neglected, owned animals include dogs left unfed and chained to trees for days in rain or freezing conditions, according to Janesville police reports.
In some cases, police have ridden around in squad cars with dogs for hours until arrangements can be made with owners or other caregivers, police reported.
Moore said some of those animals—a mix of cats and dogs—are being housed at local veterinarian offices because there’s no other place for them.
“It’s out of the goodness of their (veterinarians’) hearts,” Moore said. “These animals need care.”
Under a plan Moore said would be part of the department’s 2013 budget proposal, the department would spend about $73,000 to hire “two, if not three” part-time civilian officers. The officers would be trained to handle picking up stray animals and taking owned animals out of homes.
That cost is equal to what the Rock County Humane Society charges the city annually to pick up stray animals.
The civilian officers also could handle minor enforcement duties, such as writing parking citations. Under the plan, the department would need to add two service vehicles, Moore said.
Moore said each of the civilian officers would handle about one animal call a day. They would transport owned animals to the Dane County Humane Society.
Moore said the city has not yet decided if it will renew its contract with the Rock County Humane Society next year.
If it does, civilian officers would take over collection of stray animals, although strays still would be housed at the Rock County Humane Society. Under the plan, the city would no longer pay the Rock County Humane Society to pick up strays, but it would pay between $60 and $130 per animal for housing costs.
A Dane County Humane Society spokeswoman said the agency is still in talks with Beloit and Janesville city officials.
The plan could be a partial solution for a problem that at times has put the city and the Rock County Humane Society at odds.
In the last two years, the Rock County Human Society, a private, nonprofit animal shelter in Janesville, has raised its fees for collecting stray animals and set a policy that bars the shelter from bringing in animals taken from owners.
The group has said that its aging shelter lacks funding, space and facilities to deal with both owned animals and an influx of strays.
The group’s director, Angela Rhodes, has argued that it is not her shelter’s place or responsibility to be the county’s animal control service and clearinghouse for neglected and abused dogs and cats.
Rhodes said Friday she’s glad Janesville and Beloit are working on a deal to handle owned animals.
“For two years, they haven’t had a place for them to go and to serve them. I think it’s great that they found a place where they can adequately serve those animals,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes said the humane society has standing offers with Janesville and Beloit to renew their contracts to house strays and investigate animal abuse.
If the cities don’t renew the contracts, she said, it would be a net positive for her shelter.
“The bottom line is that we could be what we really are, which is a private shelter. We would undoubtedly be smaller, but we could match what we take in with the resources we need to help them,” Rhodes said.