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Number of cats, dogs out of control

Harrison County Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue detailed the struggles of his job Monday morning at the Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting in Corydon.
‘I don’t believe we are meeting the public’s demands,’ LaHue told the board.
He said the number of animals surrendered has increased 31 percent since 2007. LaHue was hired in January 2008.
LaHue said the ratio for the animal control facility always has been two cats for each dog, but in the past year or so, that figure has been reversed with two dogs per cat.
‘That’s a budget problem and a manpower problem,’ he said.
One of the main reasons LaHue cited for the increase is the downturn in the economy. Many people, he said, can no longer afford to feed or care for their pets. He also said ignorance about the county’s animal control ordinance leads to multiple problems such as animals at-large, non-immunized cats and dogs and animal abandonment.
He said few cases exist of deliberate neglect or harm toward animals.
To combat the ever-growing problem, LaHue recommended an aggressive media and educational campaign addressing the core requirements of proper animal care and the law that governs animals.
He said the county-funded spay/neuter program should be under the guidance of animal control, with geographic and economic problems considered as priorities. LaHue named Morgan Township as the No. 1 animal control problem area in the county according to volume.
LaHue also suggested a new, coordinated, central dispatch model for cases regarding animal control. With the current system, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and LaHue may work the same case without communication.
‘We need to find a way to consistently track animal control,’ he said.
LaHue said the answer to the problem is an animal licensing program. Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes suggested a similar solution: a dog and cat tax to help pay for the operation of the animal control facility.
‘It’d generate money and help solve the problem,’ Mathes said.
LaHue said he thought the tax or license program was a wonderful idea, especially with it including cats.
‘There are more cats in Harrison County than people,’ LaHue said.
The board advised LaHue to communicate with legal counsel John E. Colin about the creation of a potential ordinance, and then to return to the board to present the ordinance for approval.
LaHue also plans to make a grant request to the Harrison County Community Foundation for the funding of public education regarding animal control.
In other matters Monday morning, the board an-nounced the sale of three acres of the former Wennings meat-packing property to Shelby County Farm Bureau Cooperative Association for $30,000.
General Manager Louis McIntire said the site will be used for storing 60,000 gallons of bottled natural gas. Shelby County leases space off Bradford Road from farmer Donald Jones.
The county took over the 25-acre site because of unpaid taxes in the late 1990s. The site clean-up was completed in 2006, and the county put the land up for sale.
Also, Eric Wise, county planner and Harrison County Land Conservation Committee board secretary, announced the second land easement accepted in the land conservation program.
The 87-acre property, owned by Edward and Dorothy Troncin, is located east of New Salisbury along S.R. 64.
The land conservation program gives property owners another alternative to selling the land for development. The easement will be paid for by a grant previously awarded to the committee from the Harrison County Community Foundation. The Foundation awarded $40,800 to establish easements on two or more farms.
The land conservation program is a branch of county government dedicated to conserving agricultural, forest and open-space land in order to maintain a long-term business environment for agriculture and forestry in Harrison County and to protect the rural character of the county.
A Farm, Forest and Open Space Preservation Task Force was created nearly five years ago to study the issue of how to preserve farm land in the county; it eventually gave way to the conservation committee.
A conservation easement in Harrison County requires a donation of property with 100 percent ownership or 20 or more acres with no environmental hazards. The property has to become involved with a soil and water conservation program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service office and the easement has to be executed in a way that’s consistent with the goals of the conservation committee.
The first easement was donated in November by Samuel P. Hays; that property is located between Corydon and Lanesville along S.R. 62.
For anyone interested in learning about conservation easements, the conservation committee is available for presentations to either groups or individuals. For more information, visit www.harrisonfarmland.org or call Wise at 738-8927.
The board also sent an overall budget recommendation to the county council to not exceed a 3-percent cost of living raise for county employees where possible and to ‘hold the line’ on any new position requests where possible. The council will begin the 2010 budget process next month.

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