A few weeks ago, the Payson Roundup wrote an editorial prodding the town council to ask tough questions as to why the proposed contract with the Humane Society was being reduced from $88,800 to $35,000 (a reduction of more than 60 percent). We couldn’t agree more. Mind you, no discussions had taken place between the Humane Society or town prior to this announced proposal.
Last fiscal year, the Humane Society of Central Arizona (HSCAZ) took in 1,583 animals, of which 1,094 (69.11 percent) were from the Town of Payson. This FY, through March 31, 2009, we have taken in 1,114 animals, 841 (75.49 percent) from Payson. Last FY, 267 dogs and 30 cats were reclaimed by their legitimate owners. This FY, through March 31, 221 dogs and 14 cats have been reclaimed. Last FY, 466 dogs and 284 cats were adopted out. This FY, through March 31, 377 dogs and 152 cats have been adopted.
Last Tuesday, one council member stated that if $35,000 was not enough to honor the contract, then perhaps the animals should go elsewhere. One town official opined that perhaps the number of stray animals running around Payson should be allowed to increase because while the animal control officer had the authority to pick them up, the optional “may” didn’t require him to do so. That would be akin to tough ordinances followed by lax enforcement.
At the request of town officials, the HSCAZ presented a detailed cost breakdown that we incur when animals are brought into our shelter. Suffice it to say, that our costs are over double the town contract amount. Frankly, through grants we apply for, donations from the general public and foundations, and yes, town contracts, the HSCAZ is subsidizing the costs the town would otherwise incur in the absence of the HSCAZ per Arizona statute. To nobody’s surprise, general donations are way down and we are running a fiscal deficit.
So now, the tough questions that the people of Payson need answers to. Where is elsewhere? How far away is it? What happens to the animals after 72 hours? Who will wand the microchip the HSCAZ installs to identify the rightful owner? When will they be available for adoption? How many stray animals running around are acceptable? Who will spay and neuter? Who will trap, neuter and release feral cats? The questions without answers go on and on. The people of Payson deserve better.
With all due respect, when will the HSCAZ get the respect it deserves? When will the proclamations come? When will Ellie Watson and Lisa Boyle be honored? When will the employees be thanked by the town? When will the town acknowledge the economic impact the HSCAZ brings? Members of the town council, our current contract amounts to less than two-tenths of 1 percent of your proposed budget. What a bargain! People of Payson, please call and let them know!