New HSO agreement to address operational concerns
- Jason Chaney
- Central Oregonian - News
>The agreement will help save taxpayers money by improving the efficiency of the City’s animal control processAs the Humane Society of the Ochocos faces increasingly difficult financial woes, they have reached a new agreement with local government and law enforcement officials.
Prineville Police Chief Eric Bush said that the parties had reached an agreement in concept, and are drafting it for approval by as soon as next week.
“We needed an agreement that met the operational needs of the City (of Prineville) as the customer of the HSO (Humane Society of the Ochocos),” Bush said. “We have certainly had to re-evaluate the way we are doing some things to make sure we can meet the needs of the Humane Society, and vice-versa.”
Bush explained that the operational needs concern the process associated with taking animals at large to the shelter and how the police identify the owners.
“What kind of access do we have to the records of people who come and get them?” he said. “How do we deal with cases where owners are identified after the fact who don’t have dog licenses? We need to close the loop on those investigations, and what role does the Humane Society play in that?”
The agreement could help save taxpayers money, Bush added, as it helps improve the efficiency of the animal control process.
“We get very little revenue to support what we do with animal control in the City of Prineville,” Bush said. “One of the priorities we have is making sure that the people who are causing the problem are paying for the solution.”
While the parties work on the draft agreement, the Humane Society faces growing financial struggles. HSO board member Tom MacDonald told the Prineville City Council last week that donations have diminished 70 percent from 2011 to 2012. At the same time, medical and veterinary expenses have risen. As a result, the shelter will now be open to the public five days a week, with reduced hours on open days.
“It’s unfortunate because one of the real keys for an animal shelter of any kind, particularly ours, is to be open to encourage more adoptions,” MacDonald said.
The board also increased volunteer participation and eliminated travel, overtime, and other controllable expenses.
Board president Greg Lynch recently received approval from Crook County to increase its monthly contributions to the shelter from $2,500 to $3,000. He asked the County for $3,500 per month, but so far, they have not approved that amount. The HSO has asked for $3,500 per month from the City as well — currently they pay $3,000 monthly — but the City has not yet approved any increase.
Regarding its challenges, Lynch told the Council that the Humane Society would benefit from an upgrade to a more legitimate manager.
“That is not to take away from our current manager — she does a wonderful job for next to nothing in terms of wages,” he said. “She just doesn’t have the sophistication that our organization needs in terms of management.”
Lynch would like the HSO to hire a person that can take the shelter out into the community and beyond.
Meanwhile, the board remains optimistic about the future of the shelter in the face of challenging times.
“Even though we are operating on a shoestring, we are doing our best to keep things in check,” MacDonald said. “Hopefully we can get more donations, (and) get more support so that we can restore the full operating schedule and encourage more people to adopt pets.”