Wayne County’s animal control officer will now take stray and confiscated dogs to the HELP the Animals shelter.

The three county commissioners unanimously approved a contract Jan. 17 with HELP to pay $200 per dog housed with the West Main Street shelter. The HELP board had previously signed off on the agreement.

Commissioners will approach Animal Welfare League with a similar $200-per-dog offer in case HELP runs short of space during the year. The reason commissioners approached HELP was space limitations at Animal Welfare League last year.

The county has annually funded Animal Welfare League, but the funding was considered a donation. That amounted to $42,000 in 2023, and Animal Welfare League requested $50,000 for 2024. However, according to commissioners the shelter refused county animals during 2023 because it lacked space to house them.

Commissioners decided this year’s animal welfare funding would involve a contract to ensure animal placement. Animal Welfare League declined to enter such a contract, and commissioners opened dialogue with HELP.

Jesse Moore, the county’s animal control officer, placed 34 dogs with Animal Welfare League during 2023, meaning the county contributed $1,235 for each dog that Animal Welfare League accepted. At $200 per dog, those 34 dogs would cost $6,800; however, Moore often did not attempt to catch stray dogs because there was nowhere to place them. That leaves commissioners unsure how many animals the county might try and house with HELP this year.

During July, Moore came to the commissioners about three neglected dogs that needed to be removed from their home. Commissioners authorized $600 to pay for the dogs’ shelter wherever Moore could place them because Animal Welfare League lacked space.

The city of Richmond has contracted the past two years with the Henry County Humane Society in New Castle, because no local shelters would contract with the city. The city’s volume of animals overwhelmed the shelters. The city left Animal Welfare League because of space concerns and partnered with HELP during 2020 and 2021, but HELP then withdrew from consideration, leaving the city traveling to New Castle with its animals.

Richmond’s 2023 contract paid $41,200 for up to 400 animals, with any additional animals costing $103. The county traditionally houses significantly fewer animals than the city.

The county’s HELP contract includes a clause that cats and other domesticated animals would be accepted on a case-by-case basis for a negotiated price. Commissioners do not intend to pay as much for cats as for dogs. HELP also will report quarterly adoption rates for its animals.

Animal welfare has been included in the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program. Funding was approved for a study that will make recommendations about how the county could address the issue in the long term. Additional county American Rescue Plan Act dollars could then be committed to provide a solution.

Bridge projects

Commissioners approved a construction engineering contract with USI for a Sample Road bridge.

The contract is for $230,000, 20% of which the Indiana Department of Transportation will pay.

Brandon Sanders, the county engineer, said that project would likely go to bid in December.

Commissioners also approved $4,610 as compensation for four parcels necessary for a Bridge Avenue bridge project.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 24 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.