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Animal Funding Still in Limbo

Put your money where your local shelter is — because Lane County and the city of Eugene are not. They have been citing budget cuts and chopping funding to Lane County Animal Services (LCAS) and proposing instead an as-of-yet to be determined new way of dealing with the area’s homeless pets.

“LCAS has one of the highest live release rates in the country,” says Molly Sargent of the LCAS Advisory Committee. She says this one of the reasons the organization has developed so much community support. In the 2010-11 fiscal year LCAS had a 94 percent live release rate for dogs and an 88 percent live release for cats. 

Contrast those statistics to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the national animal rights group that also runs a shelter in Virginia. In 2011 it had a live release rate of 2.5 percent for dogs and 0.4 for cats. That’s an almost 100 percent kill rate.

LCAS used to have a high kill rate too, until a coalition of animal lovers began to help the city and county go no-kill. Now that LCAS is a Lane County program “that really works,” and Sargent and others want to know why its future is up in the air.

Sargent also questions why the committee has not been part of the planning for the animal service changes.

Scott Bartlett, who is also on LCAS’s Advisory Committee and is a veteran of the county’s Budget Committee, calls the proposed changes and budget cuts “shocking, callous and disgraceful considering all the progress which the community has sacrificed to make during the past 10 years.”

Commissioners Rob Handy and Pete Sorenson asked county chair Faye Stewart to add discussing the animal control situation to the commissioners’ agenda. County Administrator Liane Richardson responded via email to the request saying, “I’m sorry, but we have been informed it will be a budget violation to have a hearing on a specific fund, which this is, prior to the Budget Committee meeting on this issue.” She continues, “We must address this through the Budget Committee process.”

Further confusing the county waters after several meetings about changing animal control and giving the job of sheltering and rehoming animals over to a nonprofit agency, Richardson also writes that “although the work would be different and performed by different people, there are no service changes being recommended for the county.” She writes that through her own proposal, the county will receive a half-time position more for enforcement work than it currently has.  

“Can there not be a general meeting on animal care needs in Lane County currently, regardless of any specific fund discussion?” Bartlett asks. EW did not get a response from Richardson to Bartlett’s question before going to press.

In response to the animal control controversy, the No Kill Community Coalition has begun work again. Find it on Facebook at wkly.ws/189