Stray Pit Bulls Create Budget Crunch
Forks Township rejects a new contract to collect stray animals. Palmer accepts it.
The Center for Animal Health and Welfare in Northampton County has raised it rates to overcome budget shortfalls, but some local municipalities are not buying in.
The Center takes in the stray animals, mostly dogs, found or caught in the boroughs and townships of the county. Palmer Township renewed its contract with the shelter, but Forks did not.
Dave Colver, chairman of the Palmer supervisors board said, “What choice do we have? We don’t have an animal control officer.”
Forks Township, on the other hand, decided not to renew their contract, which expires Dec. 31. Richard Schnaedter the township manager for Forks, said they haven’t yet determined what they will do with stray animals as of Jan. 1.
The Center’s fee for collecting each dog or cat increased from $100 to $150. There are also special charges for pit bulls and pit bull mixes. After the first 10 collected, picking up additional pit bulls would cost $300 each. That is a $100 increase from the previous contract.
Through October, Palmer Township has paid the animal center $3,000 for dogs and cats brought to them this year, according to Christopher Christman, township manager for Palmer Township. The township has budgeted $4,500 to cover the Center’s cost increase in 2012.
According to the Center’s service agreement, sent to municipalities in October, the shelter has been taking in more and more animals, and as a no-kill shelter, it also has higher costs to care for the animals.
Pit bulls and pit bull mixes have been a special problem. The Center’s documentation states: “This is the breed that, statistically, has the most the most behavior and aggression issues, and is the most difficult to adopt out … this breed has a much longer average stay at our shelter, and often times needs the most attention with training issues.”
The Center’s agreement also specifically stated that the terms of service are not negotiable, and any modifications to it would be rejected.
Schnaedter said Forks Township ruled against the contract, in part, because it now states that residents can bring in animals to the Center on their own, but the township would still be charged.
If residents can bring in animals, then there is no way to verify that the animal ever lived in the township, he said.
Forks Township has an animal control officer who takes in animals.
In Palmer Township, the police collect strays.
At this point, “It would be foolish for us to not look into any alternatives,” Christman said
Schnaedter suggested that municipalities work together. “Maybe the municipalities would like to get into animal control out of necessity,” he said
Other municipalities, such as Nazareth and Upper Nazareth, have rejected the new contract, too.
The Center for Animal Health and Welfare was contacted for comment, but did not respond.