Animal shelter faces uncertain future

The Clinton Humane Society is worried it’s going to go bankrupt if the city doesn’t throw it a bone.

“We’ve got dogs from February who are still looking for a home,” said Sandi Bartels, Operations Manager for the shelter.

They’re especially full with more and more owners surrendering their pets in an uncertain economy.

“They can afford either to feed themselves or to feed their pet,” said Bartels.

The influx of surrenders and animals brought in by the city has the shelter strapped to the point of asking for $120,000 from city leaders.

“We haven’t asked for an increase in a couple of years and now it’s to the point, we’re going to go bankrupt if we don’t get an increase,” she said.

Clinton’s Mayor, Mark Vulich, disagrees with the rate increase.

“We actually are supposed to be good stewards of the tax dollar and there’s going to be a few people who’d say there’s a better way to spend $120,000,” said Vulich.

At the shelter, the cost of cat and kitten food alone, for a year, is more than $18,000.

In total, according to Bartels, it costs almost $195,000 a year to operate and fund salaries for office staff, including part-time kennel cleaners and an animal care specialist.

But, the mayor says he’ll veto any efforts by the city council to allocate the funds.

“We like dogs,” he said. “I like dogs. But, there comes a point when we all of a sudden can’t afford to do it the same way we’ve been doing it.”

Talk within the mayor’s office has turned to the creation of a city pound, something Bartels is adamantly opposed to.

“We don’t just put a dog down because it’s been here for three days. If the city takes it over, it’s going to be run like a pound and I would think the public would be in an up-roar if that happens.”

The issue’s next up for discussion a month from now.

Of course, a big part of any animal shelter’s success is through donations.

There’s a donation wish list set up at www.clintonhumanesociety and on the shelter’s Facebook page.