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Commissioners address two spay, neuter programs

The Harrison County Commissioners approved more spay and neuter vouchers for privately-owned pets Saturday. They also further clarified policy regarding the altering of pets claimed by the Animal Control officer.
The commissioners approved $20 vouchers for cats and $35 vouchers for dogs for as long as a $6,700 fund holds out. Pet owners can use the vouchers at any veterinarian who chooses to participate.
The vouchers are administered on a first-come, first-serve basis and is wholly separate from operations at the Harrison County Animal Control Facility. Animals there are to be spayed or neutered after an adoption is arranged but before leaving the building, Eckart said.
Vouchers cannot be used for adoptees. The surgery is included in the adoption costs.
The two programs have been kept separate in part because funding has been reduced for the voucher program, and it could be discontinued while the control facility is expected to operate indefinitely.
Veterinarian Julie Janes told the commissioners that she feels a competitor, veterinarian Barbara Pippin, has used the facility to solicit and conduct business in a way that places the facility in competition with private veterinarians.
Pippin has been performing spays and neuters for animals at the facility. The alterations had previously been conducted off site after adoption, but to insure total compliance the commissioners authorized control officer Mike Gentry to equip a surgical suite at the facility so alterations could be performed before the animals leave.
Gentry arranged to have Pippin to conduct the surgeries at the facility, ending the practice of allowing owners to seek services of outside veterinarians.
Janes said she believed that Pippin had treated privately-owned animals on the grounds and had received an animal there and taken it off the property for treatment.
Pippin said that she had never treated a privately-owned animal on the grounds or performed services beyond those authorized. She said that she had received a privately-owned animal in the parking lot to save the owners a trip to her practice. She said the animal was already a patient of hers.
Eckart asked that such a transfer be made elsewhere in the future. He said that private animals are not to be treated, transferred or housed at the control facility.
‘I don’t think we ever had that intention,’ he said.
Eckart said that the control facility is to provide everything except the veterinarian for spays and neuters of pets being adopted and all veterinarians are invited to participate.
He said vets could be scheduled to provide the surgeries and while there could distribute business cards or otherwise inform individuals adopting pets of the services they offer.
Janes debated the practicality of scheduling all veterinarians who ‘volunteered’ to perform surgeries on the grounds. She said this would result in a number of logistical problems.
Pippin disagreed.
Not every issue relating to the control facility was a source of conflict Saturday morning.
Gentry told the commissioners that North Harrison High School’s Renaissance Leadership Team had organized a drive and collected a gymnasium full of donations for the control facilty.
The drive became a competiton between classes to see which could raise the most. The senior class ended up winning after rallying to collect about $500 in donations in one day, but the junior class wasn’t far behind.
Altogether, NHHS raised $1,800 in donated pet supplies, including more than three tons of dog food. Apart from private individuals, Jones Machine & Tool, Old Capitol Feed & Seed, Blue River Feed Mill and Old Capitol Veterinary Hospital all contributed items.
Gentry said that Denise Ellars, Uhl Trucking, Bennett & Bennett Insurance and Burns Trophy also helped make the drive a success.
NHHS challenged other area schools to sponsor drives. If they do, Gentry said, he doesn’t need anymore dog food, but he could use cat litter, bleach and laundry detergent.