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Lemhi County Humane Society Board President Cindy Phelps presented the March 16 meeting of the Salmon City Council with a run down of statistics and services the organization provides to the community. She also made a plea for restoration of previous levels of financial support.

The society owns and operates the Animal Shelter which is located on city owned land at 958 VFW Drive. Phelps said that during 2010 the Animal Shelter dealt with 235 dogs and 185 cats plus various larger animals such as horses, cows and burros. She said the tenacious feral cat population is of special concern to the Humane Society which has sponsored the spaying and neutering of over 40 feral cats in the last six months. She said the shelter has a very aggressive program aimed at finding pockets of feral cat populations and helping residents to bring the numbers under control.

Phelps said statistics from the last three years show 63 percent of the dogs taken into the shelter come from the city of Salmon and 26 percent come from the county. About 11 percent of the dogs were from Custer County. Seventy-four percent of cats delivered to the shelter are from Salmon, 19 percent are from the county and seven percent are from Custer County.

She said shelter personnel are called upon often to fill in for the city’s part time Animal Control Officer who is not available at night, on weekends or on holidays. The Humane Society also does welfare checks on animals in the city and county. Actions taken to resolve the calls can range from euthanasia to providing hay or transferring animals in-need to new homes. Last month there were 11 welfare calls within the city and 13 from the county. Nine calls involved horses, one call had to do with a cow, three were about feral cats and 11 calls were about dogs.

While welfare cases of a profound nature can require putting an animal down, according to Phelps euthanasia is a rare thing at the Animal Shelter. She said the only reasons for taking such action is if the animal is extremely ill, severely injured, very old or aggressive to the point it should not be put up for adoption. In 2010 only three dogs and one cat had to be euthanized.

In a financial breakdown of Animal Shelter operations Phelps said 2010 shelter expenditures totaled $101,268.91. Up until this fiscal year the city was providing an annual $14,000 to the shelter. The county provides $2,000 a year. Last Fall the Humane Society was informed that the city was cutting its contribution to $7,000.

Phelps quoted contributions by other cities with animal shelters run by private entities. Figures fluctuated from a high of $100,000 from various communities for McCall’s shelter to $11,000 for the Teton Valley Animal Shelter in Driggs. She said that based on this city’s pay scale, if the city were having to pay salaries at the shelter the yearly cost would be from $77,000 to $97,000 compared to the $50,000 the shelter now expends.

Phelps said all monies from the city and county are spent on the facility itself. Other income is used for the actual care and feeding plus all the other services. Spay and neuter clinics are a top priority and are staged whenever there is extra money. She said many of the grants and donations come from outside the area however all the money is spent locally.

After listing all the services and contributions made to this community by the organization, including restoration of an historic Main Street building, Phelps asked the City Council to please consider restoring its past contribution of $14,000 a year. She said she thinks taxpayers are willing to fund all the work and many animal related services being provided by the Lemhi County Humane Society.

According to city officials the long standing agreement between the city and the Humane Society is tied to whether or not, at the time the next fiscal year budget is being prepared, the city has the tax funds available for financial assistance to the shelter. Last year at budget time the city elected not to increase the size of its annual operating budget even though operating costs such as fuel were much higher than the previous year. As a result of choosing to not raise taxes, there were fewer discretionary funds available to share.

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