Monday's County Board Meeting to Discuss Humane Society Funding

By: Elizabeth Schilder Email
By: Elizabeth Schilder Email
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UPDATE: 5/3 at 3:47 p.m.

A county board meeting scheduled for Monday, May 6th at 3 p.m. is expected to draw increased interest as funding for the Marathon County Humane Society is part of the meeting's agenda.

An Impoundment Service Task Force is recommending that Marathon County pay only for dogs to stay at the shelter for a maximum of seven days. The task force also recommend the shelter not care for cats, unless bitten someone and would provide a quarantine service.

The meeting will be held in the corporation counsel' conference room at the Marathon County Courthouse.

ORIGINAL STORY: 4/23 at 10:21 p.m.

By a vote of 7-4 Tuesday night, the Wausau City Council officially recommended that the Marathon County Board limit funding for animals at 7 days, the time required by the state.

The vote came after a meeting packed by mostly animal lovers.

Marathon County currently funds 7 days, with the Humane Society picking up the tab with fundraisers after that. But the contract is being renegotiated after the Humane Society revealed it's been running on a $130,000 deficit.

The city's Public Health and Safety Committee passed the resolution earlier this month, reasoning the longer animals stay at the shelter the more it costs taxpayers.

Tonight's vote is only a suggestions. Marathon County will have the final say. But the City Council wants to be clear, no matter what the county decides, those in favor of the resolution say it does not amount to a euthanasia order.

"What happens to animals on day 8 changes not. Even if the county would adopt a seven day rule, what happens on day eight is the decision of the Humane Society of Marathon County. It is not the decision of government," Chairperson of the Public Health and Safety Committee and Alderwoman of Wausau's 7th District, Lisa Rasmussen said.

The Executive Director of the Marathon County Humane Society, Mary Kirlin, said she feels the council didn't hear what she had to say.

"We're not asking for anyone to pay for animals for 6 months in the building, that's what we fundraise for. There is an end at seven days of what is going to happen to this animal. We're asking for a cost, a disposition for that final end and for each of those animals that come in It's up to us as a shelter and our fundraisers and our supporters to carry it on the way we do. That's what they're not hearing," ," Kirlin told NewsChannel 7.

Linda Berna-Karger, Humane Society of Marathon County Board President read this statement at the meeting Tuesday night:

The Humane Society of Marathon County currently euthanizes 13% of stray dogs and 70% of stray cats. The resolution you are considering suggests that those percentages are not sufficient to you as representatives of the city. Thus, my request to the supporters of this resolution, and in the interest of public disclosure, please clarify what percentages of euthanasia will satisfy you. To only discuss the financial implications of impoundment and shelter care is deceiving. This resolution calls for dramatic increases in euthanasia of animals, which under current practices will typically be adopted in 18 days for a dog and 30 days for a cat.

Berna-Karger continues her statement writing,

I urge you to reject this resolution.

The Humane Society currently receives approximately $132,000 from the county. It's currently in the process of renegotiating it's contract with the county. Berna-Karger told NewsChannel 7 that until this point, their contract has not been clear on whether that funding is just for seven days or if it can extend beyond that.

One point both parties agreed on is that pet owners need to be more responsible when it comes to licensing and fixing their animals. Negligence, they said, is one of the main reasons the county is in this bind.

Regardless of Tuesday's vote, Berna-Karger said the Humane Society plans to continue to work with the county.

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