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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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For the week of January 22 - 28, 2003


New animal shelter contract would set uniform policies

Express Staff Writer

A new agreement under way between local political entities and the animal shelter should standardize and clarify policies surrounding the impoundment of animals.

The Blaine County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a contract with the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley that obligates the shelter to house all animals provided by the county’s animal control officer. In return, the county will pay $20 per day for each dog and $12 for each cat housed at the shelter for up to seven days. At that time, the animals become the property of the shelter.

The same contract has been delivered to each of the valley’s cities, though none has yet discussed it in public. If they all decide to sign, it will be the first time that a uniform policy has existed throughout the county. Those who do not sign will not be able to use the shelter’s services.

The shelter terminated its previous contract with the county and Hailey over a year ago on the grounds that it wasn’t allowing it to meet expenses. Under that agreement, the shelter’s only income, other than donations, was from impound fees.

In the past, complications have arisen when either animal control officers or private citizens have picked up dogs they felt were "at large" and dropped them off at the shelter. The shelter had no authority to collect fees from the animals’ owners when they came to pick them up. Under the new agreement, private citizens will have to go through an animal control officer to have animals delivered to the shelter.

In an interview, county Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tim Graves said the new agreement will place more of a burden on animal control officers to determine when a dog or cat is "at large" and should be deposited at the shelter, since the jurisdiction for which the officer works will have to pay the per-diem fee.

Graves said the hope is that there will be fewer impounds and more citations. The latter was made easier for officers to carry out last fall when the county made a first violation of its "running-at-large" ordinance an infraction rather than a misdemeanor. Hailey has adopted the same ordinance. Those violations are also infractions in Ketchum but remain misdemeanors in Sun Valley.

The contract obligates the county, and cities that choose to sign, to collect impound fees from the owners of animals picked up within their boundaries. The shelter will not release the animals until the fees are collected.

The nonprofit animal shelter also accepts unwanted pets, but requests a donation for all animals dropped off there.


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