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Funding increase sought for HC animal control

Funding increase sought for HC animal control Funding increase sought for HC animal control

A new duo of leaders at Harrison County Animal Control asked for more adequate funding for the department going forward.

The plea came Monday night at the Harrison County Council meeting, where the public heard from the new department head, April Breeden, and a senior technician.

Breeden started her role as director around the end of August, according to the Harrison County Animal Control Facebook page. She succeeded Jamie Breeding, who left her position earlier that month. She was hired earlier this year after a misconduct investigation into the department led to a complete personnel overhaul.

“I was born and raised in Southern Indiana,” Breeden said on Facebook. “I’ve raised my family here, right along some of you. My passion for animals has been with me my whole life. I think I get it from my Mother. Caring for and protecting them has always been my pursuit. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with these wonderful animals and help keep not only our community safe, but them as well.”

Breeding stayed on a couple weeks to help Breeden get comfortable in the role.

During Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Charlie Crawford talked about shortfalls in the budget that animal control is experiencing this year, totaling several thousand dollars, plus, a $20,800 additional to make Michael Metcalfe a full-time employee.

Metcalfe has been a part-time animal control officer for close to a year. He asked the council to consider sending more funding for the department for 2020.

“I am here to request adequate funding for the animal control facility,” the senior animal control officer said, “so we can have the necessary staff and resources needed to properly provide a public service and public safety to our community.”

Metcalfe added the county population has grown, but funding for animal control has remained the same during the time period.

Councilman Kyle Nix asked Metcalfe what he thought needed addressed with animal control.

He responded that it needs more full-time animal control officers. The county’s large geographical area limits the runs they can make in a day.

“We’re basically staying afloat,” Metcalfe said.

More kennel technicians are needed, too. Most of the hours of the part-time technicians are spent cleaning a kennel one time a day. That leaves laundry, dishes and other tasks still left undone, and those won’t get done if an animal creates a mess after a kennel is cleaned.

“We have to provide humane treatment for those animals,” Metcalfe said. “That’s a state law. How can we sit there and dictate to everybody else, say you must provide humane treatment for animals, go around and enforce that law, when we don’t have the means to do that ourselves?”

Breeden said the council should also consider providing bulletproof vests for the animal control officers, citing incidents across the country where an animal control worker was attacked while responding to a call.

The council is still finalizing its 2020 budget, including animal control’s funding for next year. The state deadline requires that to be completed by the end of October.

The additional funds requested for this year still need the approval of Crawford and his peers at the next Harrison County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, which will take place Monday, Oct. 7, at 8:30 a.m. the Government Center.

There also is a shortfall of more than $25,000 for paying the part-time employees for the rest of 2019.

“Where that came from is because of the downturn; we had to double up on training,” Crawford said. “Normally, we would have three kennel techs on a day, we would have three animal control officers on a day, but there is a lot of times we would have their shifts overlap so we could have the training.”

Crawford added a disease also swept through the facility at one point, too, forcing employees to work a week disinfecting the facility and cleaning up the entire place.

Overall, animal control needs more than $80,000 to get to the end of 2019 if Metcalfe becomes a full-time worker.

Animal control will have a little extra help controlling its population at the shelter. Approximately a month ago, the county placed new video surveillance equipment around the facility in Corydon. Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said the technology covers the property, inside and outside, 24 hours a day. He added the equipment will help catch animal owners who abandon unwanted pets by dumping them over the fence.

To also help stay under capacity, animal control will soon be able to once again euthanize animals in-house rather than scheduling an appointment at a veterinarian’s office, according to Crawford.