Pa. Fee Changes For Stray Animals Cause Ire
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A central Pennsylvania animal welfare group’s plan to change the way it charges for care of stray animals is raising the ire of some local officials.
The Humane Society of Harrisburg Area has charged municipalities based on the average number of animals collected there over the previous three years.
But now, it plans to charge $1 for every person in the municipality, based on 2000 census figures. Some municipalities, such as Hampden Township and New Cumberland, would pay a lot more, others, such as Swatara Township and Steelton, significantly less.
Humane Society director Amy Kaunas tells The Patriot News of Harrisburg that the new formula would be fairer.
“There was a lot of negative feedback before because they would claim the animal was not found in their municipalities or it was not really a stray,’’ she said. “We tried making people fill out forms when they dropped off animals, but it was not enough to remedy the situation. With the census, there’s no arguing. It is what it is.’’
Animal shelters in York and Lancaster counties use similar formulas, Kaunas said.
In Hampden, which paid about $2,700 in 2010 but would pay more than $24,000 under the new formula, officials are not happy.
“It’s a ridiculous amount of money,’’ township manager Mike Gossert said. “Based on the 89 animals from Hampden last year, that comes to $300 per animal.’’
Gossert said the plan would punish municipalities in which residents are more responsible in caring for their animals.
Municipalities are responsible under state law for caring for stray dogs, although not for cats, and are not required to contract with the Humane Society.
In North Middleton Township, the annual rate would almost double, and manager Deborah Ealor says officials don’t know where the money would come from.
“We support the Humane Society and the service they provide, and it’s unfortunate the animals get caught in the middle,’’ Ealor said. “With respect to the change, there’s no incentive to help control what’s going on.’’