CHS asks commission for more funding

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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During Monday’s commission work session, the Chambers County Commission got into a heated conversation about the Chattahoochee Humane Society. CHS Board President Dantz Fraser and CHS Director Amber Mingin gave a report on the current statistics at the shelter, saying they need more funding to stay afloat. 

Fraser began the report by saying the shelter has had a 100% turnover in staff. Director Amber Mingin started in June. All of the former employees have left.

“The attitude of shelter is much much better than what it was in the past,” Fraser said. 

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According to Fraser, in 2022, they lost about $18,000. Last year, they had a profit of about $2,700. In 2022, he said they raised over $20,000 in donations while in 2023 they raised $71,000. 

“The reason I’m telling you that is we can’t always depend on donations to fill the gap in between funding,” Fraser said. “We got a lot of this funding through online auctions, charity events, we just really pumped the public as far as we could to earn the money.”

Several members of the county commission said they have reports that the shelter hasn’t kept up their end of the contract with the county in taking strays.

“Let’s stop right there,” said James Williams, Commission Chair, interrupting Mingin. “Because I can tell you personally if I were to call out there today and say I got a stray down in my yard, your people would tell me to call back in 30 days.”

Mingin responded, saying, “We are by appointment only, which could be the 30-day mark you’re talking about. So we’ve had to do by appointments to stagger how many people are trying to surrender or bring in their animals.”

“The county just wants to be treated fairly,” said Skip McCoy, county attorney. 

Mingin responded that the shelter takes as many animals as they can physically hold but the intakes have doubled while the funding has stayed the same. The only alternative is to begin euthanizing for space.

The humane society currently takes animals from Valley Animal Control, Lanett Animal Control and Chambers County. Because the county doesn’t have animal control, residents must bring in the dogs to the shelter. The shelter also makes appointments to accept owner surrenders from Lanett, Valley and Chambers County. 

State laws say that LaFayette is under the population limits to require a pound. 

“I think I can speak for the whole commission,” Williams said during the meeting. “Our problem is we’re paying for eight cages. And it’s hard to tell the public that we’re paying my cages, and we can’t get no dogs down there.”

Mingin said the contract requires them to provide eight kennels, but the shelter also receives multiple cats from the county.

“We’re specifically talking about that money is for eight kennels for dogs, but we intake cats on a regular basis,” Mingin said. “So is that money for cats as well? Because we have like 145 intake plus of cats that costs almost just as much as the dogs.”

The city of Lanett currently pays $2,500 a month for four kennels every seven days. Valley pays $3,265 a month for four kennels. According to Mingin, the county commission pays around $6,000 a month for eight kennels. 

“We’re also renegotiating with Lanett because their intake numbers — the numbers we’re getting from them — just are much higher than what their compensation is,” Fraser said. 

Each dog is required by law to stay in the shelter on a seven-day hold. After that, it becomes the responsibility of the shelter to either get adopted or otherwise moved out of the kennel. 

The shelter has 16 kennels under contractual obligation. They opened 15 more kennels last year to place the overflow animals to avoid euthanizing them for space only. 

“With those 16 kennels, we could do about 130 dog days a year,” Fraser said. 

Yet in the past five years, the number of animal intakes has only continued to increase and remain steady. In 2019, the number of intakes was 337. In 2020, the intake numbers jumped to 614. In 2021, it increased to 676. In 2022 and 2023, the number has remained steady at 672 and 673. 

“It’s not that we don’t want to take them,” Mingin said. “I don’t want a dog running down the street and getting hit by a car. I don’t want sheriffs telling people just shoot the dog that goes in their yard.”

Mingin said they have gotten 281 dogs adopted this year. All dogs adopted from the shelter are spayed/neutered to help decrease the overpopulation problem.

Expenses continue to rise even though the funding hasn’t, Fraser said. 

Mingin said the humane shelter has been working to provide resources to help residents keep their animals. She said they have reduced spay/neuter programs, provide dog and cat food and help with enclosures to keep dogs in the yard.