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Posted on Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 10:01 a.m.

Washtenaw County should leave animal control duties with Humane Society

By Letters to the Editor

Once again in “County shifts humane society funds to sheriff’s office under revised budget” (AA.Com/Sunday Nov. 6), the commissioners are short on logic and data.

In a move, which seems rather vendetta like, the county board is proposing a transfer of authority for animal control to the sheriff’s department.

Chairman Conan Smith told me the “Sheriff’s Department has a statutory obligation for animal control.” That is correct. But isn’t it also correct that the sheriff’s department has deputized the animal control officers at the Humane Society to carry out that obligation, for years? And has that not been an effective arrangement?

What happened to the old adage, “IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT.”

In the statement “some commissioners have expressed interest in issuing a request for proposals to see if there’s another private organization that can provide animal control services at a lower cost,” what I hear is: “We don’t know for sure, but we think we can do it cheaper.” Well commissioners, when do you think you will know?

The truth is, it can’t be done. A few paragraphs later, Smith says, “the county needs to continue to provide a level of funding for animal control service that goes beyond just the state mandate.” Mr. Smith, that is exactly what the Humane Society of Huron Valley is doing.

Do you not care about data proving the county is getting a bargain? This data is not refutable. Washtenaw County currently gets the best deal per capita for animal control of any surrounding county.

Do you not understand the difference between a 50 percent kill rate in other counties, and an 80 plus percent SAVE rate in Washtenaw County. Do you NOT think this is of significance to the voters of Washtenaw County?

No one can refute the difficult budget situation facing the county board. Yet, it has been noted that the county administrator boasted about not proposing any county employee layoffs , while the Humane Society (with whom there is a formal contract through December and a letter of intent for several years) and other non-profit agencies are needing to consider employee lay-offs. If Commissioner Sizemore is quoted correctly, how does the county board justify re-hiring retired county workers, with no proposed layoffs, and an 8 percent raise for staff. Where is the shared sacrifice?

M. Kate Murphy
HSHV volunteer, Pinckney



Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 9:31 a.m.

Its hard to believe Conan is the son of Alma Wheeler Smith. She is such a sweet woman and he seems so spiteful.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

I'm against cutting the funding for the Humane Society, and here is the reason. For many people, including most of those who read these comments, you are all residents of Washtenaw County. For those of us who have utilized the services of the Humane Society, the services they provide are invaluable. I have discussed this situation with political leaders in other counties surrounding our area and I have been told that there are currently some cities that literally have no animal control, no pound, no where to take animals if they are found hurt, injured or abandoned. I spoke with a police officer who works in a city in Wayne county said they have no where to take animals. This means that the stray dog, or the injured animals they find on duty have no chance or survival, no where to go, literally they have no option at this point. The police officer I spoke with said he wished that his city had signed onto the contract with HSHV because there is no where like it in Wayne county. I pay a lot of money in taxes to live in a city that will provide these necessary services to better the community where I live. I find it hard to believe that the Washtenaw county Sheriff's department or an outside agency can do a better job than HSHV. Especially when they consider what they were contributing to HSHV. Just one deputized officer and a facility to house the amount of animals that are cared for at HSHV would well exceed what the county was contributing to HSHV. I understand that cuts need to be made, however, this is one area where cuts should be considered as part of the "human services" that everyone is speaking of. Just as the issue of homelessness needs to be addressed, so does the issue of homeless pets.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

I have to disagree with this one. There is a HS right off Greenfield right off 94. Just turn right and it is right there. I have seen it and you can take an injured animal there. What my biggest complaint is the fact that I almost hit a puppy that looked like it had not eaten in days. When I called HS in Wayne county? They told me to call animal control. I ended up in circles on the phone with them. I look for that dog now as I drive by. I told my high schoolers I hope they don't mind, but I am going to rescue it if it costs me my job. Wayne county sucks when it comes to protecting animals. I think I'll contact ASPCA on this one.

zip the cat

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

They HSHV, lost all my support $ when they made the PIT BULL there spokesdog.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 4:21 p.m.

Marie was the "celebrity spokesdog" for the 2011 Walk & Wag event, because she represents everything HSHV tries to do for animals in our community. Attitudes like yours are one reason that Marie was chosen--to try and educate folks about the true nature of a misunderstood and misrepresented breed.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

When did they do that? I guess I missed something in email.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:49 a.m.

I understand it's in opinion, but really, do you enjoy posting flagrant hate letters? "In a move, which seems rather vendetta like, the county board is proposing a transfer of authority for animal control to the sheriff's department. " Maybe I'll consider purchasing your paper next year, if your actually nice and not evil this next 12 months.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.


Sheila Bourgoin

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:33 a.m.

Washtenaw County benefits from the goodwill that HSHV has developed through its record high save rate, dedicated volunteer base, community support (through donations and trust that animals brought to the shelter will find good homes). To turn to some other entity to fulfill what is a mandated responsibility is shortsighted. Don't reinvent the wheel when this County can feel pride in partnering with the best public animal shelter in the state. Do we want a shelter where people feel they have to "rescue" pets from the shelter or a shelter where no one willingly brings strays for fear that the animal will be destroyed? What legacy do these commissioners want to leave? If the County Commissioners want to put a dollar value on the services HSHV provides, look at the entire value of their services, tangible and intangible.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 11:04 p.m.

"shop around for animal control services outside of Huron Valley Humane Society" -- I am hoping that this DOES NOT include the selling of strays or lost pets for experimentation to labs etc. HVHS would never sell animals this way, but another entity isn't likely to be so ethical.

L. C. Burgundy

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

As far as I can tell, the HSHV's oft-repeated position is that they should not be subject to any cuts, at all, because they do such a great job already. It's an extreme position and it's why they find themselves in this position. It's literally to the point of "You should cut human services (even more) to fund animal services at the same level." That's a really bitter pill to swallow for most commissioners and the HSHV isn't making it any easier.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

I get really tired of the Humane Society's tactic of having dozens of public commenters at each of the Board of Commissioners' meetings repetitively making the same comments. I come to the meetings to find out what the commisioners are doing, not to listen to hours of repetitive comments from the Humane Society. Everyone understands their position on the issue and having dozens of commenters waste the time of both the commissioners and the audience is disrespectfull.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 12:23 a.m. about saying the same thing over and over !! ( but at least you're not riffing about the UM here.)


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 8 p.m.

Look folks, (including the writer), the county is cutting money to feed and house human beings. I'm an animal lover, but not to the point of ignoring my fellow man in favor of dogs and cats. It seems the HSHV charges too much and the county wants to shop around for service providers....makes sense.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

Would you rather have the police dealing with crime and criminals or chasing the feral cats and tracking loose dogs. I agree with Johnnya2, it is a human service and the HS does it for a better price overall. The HVHS is a much better branch than the Michigan Humane Society which has a lot of problems, so please people don't confuse the two. All Humane Societies are not equal.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

Animal control IS a HUMAN service. The county has not entered into a contract where they receive the services cheaper with any agency. They will now be forced to handle the situation through the police/sheriffs department. People with no training in it. The service is not an optional service. The HSHV has told them the price, they don't like it and the county is whining about it trying to argue it is about helping people. A TOTAL LIE.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

Do we really want to unload all this work? They say that the most common call to police is a complaint about a noisy or vicious dog. The police are already overtaxed with reduced staff and the need to patrol crosswalks. This will wind up causing much more dangerous tension in neighborhoods, because those complaints will be ignored. Then we end up paying 100 times the cost when the case winds up in the court system. Not a good gamble.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

Im waiting.. one of the " vicious dog" will attack someone.. and the police wont get there and some one will die or someone will shoot it.. them who's gonna be in trouble?.


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

Talk about babble! This is not Detroit. No need on either side for hyperbole!


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

Don't bother calling HS in Detroit. They will tell you to call animal control where upon you will end up in a cycle of mundane number punching only to be spitted out at the end saying were sorry your call did not go thru will you try again later. I hate to say it, but HS should be animal control because that is what they do. I totally agree with this article.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

the INHUMANE Society is so far out of control it needs to go out of business A.S.A.P.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

what the hell are you babbling about??...are you one of those whose animals were seized in an anti cruelty raid? some are posted on the walls of the shelter as those who've been given court ordered no-trespass orders .


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.


Go Blue

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

Once again, our voted in officials are failing us. Their lack of logic in understanding the reality of situations is shameful. One would think they are living on cloud 9 and cannot see the world around them. We need some officials representing us and what we feel is relevant, important, crucial and not what THEY want to the point of ignoring the public demands and reality. Unfortunately the items important to the commissioners are not what the voting public wants or necessarily feel is important, yet they continue to ignore and go along their merry way like little elves in lala land. And no, I'm not connected to any humane society, animal rescue, etc., just John Q Public tired of seeing the wrong priorities supported.

Bob Martel

Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

I understand and appreciate the challenge that our various units of government face with their respective budget challenges. But I am weary of politicians and bureaucrats promoting the "saving of government jobs" at the expense of providing services to citizens as a good thing. It's high time that politicians and bureaucrats realize that providing services to the citizens should be the prime purpose for the expenditure of tax dollars, not the continued full employment of existing government workers. Admittedly, sometimes the two objectives are the same, but it seems to me that often they are not and, when faced with this dichotomy, the continued employment of government workers seems to trump the provision of services to citizens.


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

There is an interesting article in the new A2.Observer on this case in which a commissioner is quoting as saying that a "deal" ( i.e.understanding about funding and services ) with the hshv is not the same as a 'contract'. talk about non-good faith on the part of the county. and yes: the services the HSHV provides include both legally mandated essentials and moral essentials...all done with a competence matched by few organizations of any kind, locally or elsewhere. ( disclosure: I too am a volunteer there)


Sat, Nov 26, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

Well said!! The County Commissioners have their heads buried in the sand, hoping it all works out. Well, its not going to - they should have done their homework on this one. What a shame they don't listen to the people that voted them in. Isn't that how its supposed to work? You vote the ones in office that you feel have your back?