Woolwich approves outsourcing animal control

[Stock photo]

Expanding on its longstanding agreement for pound services with the K-W Humane Society, Woolwich is offloading its animal control functions onto the agency in a new contract that kicks in next year.

The current four year deal ends at the end of 2018, with the expanded contract running through 2023.

The arrangement will see animal control services such as responding to calls about dogs running at large, dog bites and aggressive dogs handled by the agency rather than by township staff. Daytime services will extend an extra two hours a day – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, rather than the township staff’s 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outside those times, the humane society will provide 24/7 emergency services related to vicious, rabid or injured animals.

That comes at a cost, adding another $9,000 a year to the budget and wiping out net revenue from the sale of dog tags. This year, the township budgeted $15,295 for the humane society to cover pound services in which the agency houses stray animals. Based on revenues of $27,000 for tags, that left almost $9,000 as a net gain.

As of next year, the cost of the contract jumps to $26,000. The new plan, even with slightly increased tag fees, will result in a net loss of about $200. But contracting out the animal control services will free up the township’s bylaw enforcement officers to deal with other matters, said deputy clerk Jeff Smith.

“I think it offers a low cost, high value way to deliver animal control services,” he told councillors meeting August 14.

The freeing up of staff time and having the humane society dealing with more complicated dog-based disputes, for instance, should pay off in the long run, he suggested.

“With two bylaw enforcement officers enforcing 19 bylaws over the whole geographic area of the township, staff are noticing slower response times and a backlog of complaints. Service levels are further impacted by a growing number of calls that involve mental health (i.e. hoarding) or ongoing neighbour disputes that take significant resources,” he argued in his report.

In conjunction with the changes, he also recommended dog licence fees increase for the first time in seven years. Tags will cost $26, up from the current $25, for a neutered/spayed dog and $37 ($35) for a non-neutered/spayed dog in 2019.

Coun. Mark Bauman, noting the fees paid by dog owners to the humane society for impounded dogs caught running at large, for instance, go directly to the agency, suggested the township should look at ways to raise revenue too.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t cover the cost of irresponsible dog owners.”

Last year, 115 animals were taken to the pound.

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