Council Discusses Animal Shelter Agreement, Delays Decision
Hellertown Borough Council is considering ending the borough's year-to-year agreement with the Center for Animal Health and Welfare, a Williams Township shelter that currently accepts stray dogs picked up in Hellertown.
Hellertown officials remain unhappy with changes the Center for Animal Health and Welfare has made to the terms of the 2012 contract the borough must agree to if it wants its animal control officer, Scott Ziegler, and police to continue to use the shelter as a drop-off location for strays.
At Borough Council's Nov. 7 meeting, Borough Manager Cathy Kichilne reminded council of the changes that were discussed earlier this month: the per animal drop-off fee is increasing from $100 to $150; the borough will no longer have the option to drop off only dogs; and members of the public will be allowed to drop off strays, although the borough will have to pick up the tab.
"We don't have an opportunity to amend the contract," Kichline said.
Due to that fact and the changes themselves, Kichline said she is "sure this is going to be an agenda item on every municipality's agenda in the upcoming weeks."
Hellertown Police Chief Robert Shupp was more blunt in his assessment of the agreement, however.
"Nobody is signing this," he said, adding that a discussion about the changes to the contract terms is going to be high on the agenda at a meeting of local police chiefs this month.
Shupp said the borough's bills could be "astronomical" if it agrees to the terms of the new contract.
"If somebody found 10 cats and took them up there, it would cost the borough $1,500, because you cannot differentiate," he said. "I just think this is a bad agreement. I don’t think the borough would benefit from this at all."
Another factor Shupp said council members should be aware of is the shelter's right to refuse an animal shelter if it has no room to house the animal.
Shupp said the borough should consider other options for dealing with its strays, possibly including the construction of temporary "holding pens" for animals, or an agreement with another shelter.
So far this year, he said, the borough's animal control officer has been called to 86 stray dog calls, with 19 of them ultimately taken to the shelter. In 33 cases the owner of the stray dog was found within a day of the call, he added.
Kichline recommended that council wait to make a final decision on ending the contract, since doing so could leave the borough "between a rock and a hard place."
After council decided to table a decision on the contract, Kichline said another discussion will be on council's next meeting agenda.
The current contract expires on Dec. 31.