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Posted on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 5 p.m.

Humane Society, Washtenaw County negotiating animal control agreement

By Amy Biolchini

Though the current contract between the Humane Society of Huron Valley and Washtenaw County for animal control services has expired, both parties expect an agreement to be reached by mid-January.

Tanya Hilgendorf, president and CEO of the Humane Society of Huron Valley, estimated that a signed agreement would likely come within the next 10 days. There have been no service interruptions, though the county's current contract expired Dec. 31.


The Humane Society of Huron Valley will continue providing animal control services to Washtenaw County under a new four-year contract officials hope to finalize in the next 10 days.

File photo by Angela J. Cesere |

Washtenaw County Administrator Verna McDaniel, as well as County Sheriff Jerry Clayton and Curtis Hedger, corporation counsel, have been in talks with the Humane Society and have submitted a letter of intent.

The county has a contract with the Humane Society to house stray dogs and dogs involved in cruelty investigations, as required by the Michigan Dog Law of 1919, as well as the housing and care of stray cats — which is not required by law.

In an effort to review the county’s investment in its contract with the HSHV, two special county task forces were created last year.

After months of review, in November the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners authorized Administrator McDaniel to negotiate and execute a contract with the Humane Society without making a formal recommendation as to the level of service the county wanted to provide. The contract will not have to come before the board for final approval.

McDaniel has since been in talks with the Humane Society, and has negotiated a four-year, $550,000 contract that will provide the same level of service as the previous contract.

The county will be responsible for paying $460,000 of the contract out of its general fund, and the remaining $90,000 will come from contracts for animal control services that the county expects to negotiate with a number of municipalities .

Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, Pittsfield Township and Superior Township all have their own ordinances regarding stray dogs. McDaniel said she has verbal agreements with the leadership of each of them, and believes that they will all contract with the county for animal control services.

Currently, the county pays for the Humane Society to collect loose or stray dogs from those municipalities and to house the dogs during cruelty investigations. However, those municipalities do not financially assist the county with its contract.

McDaniel also plans to approach the city of Saline for a service agreement, she said.

The final amount of how much each of the municipalities will be asked to contribute has yet to be determined, although Pittsfield Township already passed an ordinance in which the Board of Trustees agreed Oct. 25 to pay $18,000 for the county to provide it with animal control services in 2013.

However, should any municipality decline to pay for the service, the county will not be required to pay the Humane Society more than $500,000, McDaniel said. $500,000 is the maximum amount of county dollars the Board of Commissioners authorized McDaniel to negotiate a contract for.

The county's negotiations with the Humane Society this year are less contentious than those of a year ago.

Commissioners acted in the fall of 2011 to cut funding to the Humane Society from $500,000 to $265,000 — a margin that did not meet a positive reaction from the Humane Society.

The county was able to strike up a bargain agreement of $415,000 for services in 2012, but the Humane Society made it clear to county leaders that it could not maintain a contract at that level.

The Humane Society is a non-profit organization and is in part funded by donations and utilizes volunteer hours for some of its services.

The value of the services that the Humane Society provides to the county is “above and beyond” the amount that the county pays for, McDaniel said.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

If we are talking animal control, we need to address enforcing leash laws where they exist. Leash laws are for the protection of the public. So many people disobey the leash laws now because there is no enforcement. Perhaps the Humane Society could enforce leash laws with the approval of municipalities. It may even be able to be self funding through fines.

Ed Anderson

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

Thanks for the update So glad the humane society folks were able to negotiate with the best interest of animals and community in mind (after all the unfair assault they endured in the process, I was half expecting them to walk away from the table never to return). I am also glad to hear that the county has a better understanding of their obligations and the value of the services provided. I do agree it should be a shared expense with the municipalities. When I lived in California, I volunteerd at my local shelter in the city that I lived. Many cities in addition to the county ran their own shelters or partnered with a nonprofit group to do it. It was part of public health and safety. I am sure it saves on costs and pulbic confusion to have one county-wide shelter, but why shouldn't the localities pay for the care of stray animals from their own communities?


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 9:31 a.m.

Funding at the county level is proportionate and fair. Additional charges to penalize certain communities for their efforts in the past few years is wrong. That a community has worked hard to eliminate strays already means that in subsequent years there will be a reduced need for services. Hardly fair to charge them more now.