In an unanimous vote, the Ashe County Board of Commissioners released the $2,000 from pet licence fees to be given to the Ashe Humane Society for its spay/neuter program at their Monday, July 7 meeting.
Jill Ferguson, head of the Ashe Humane Society spoke to the Board about the importance of the spay/neuter program.
“There is no mystery as to how to solve the problem of overpopulation of cats and dogs in Ashe County,” she said. “It isn’t complicated, but it isn’t quick and easy either.”
Ferguson said as a community, Ashe County needs to care for the current supply of unwanted animals, including discarded family pets, unwelcome litters, strays and feral cats, as best as they can.
“We have to take steps to curtail the supply,” she said. “We will never be able to adopt our way out of this situation.”
According to Ferguson, if left unchecked, a single pair of cats and their offspring can produce 2,000 in four years. The spay-neuter program is one way to prevent animals from overpopulating, especially in rural areas.
“Providing financial subsidies or incentives from low-cost spay-neuter vouchers work,” she said. “Some cannot afford to pay the full price and others just simply refuse to do so.”
Since 2010, Ferguson said Ashe Humane Society had issued over 1,200 vouchers and have used over $19,000 in grants and donations for the spay and neuter program
All funding from the government to AHS would go specifically to its spay/neuter prgoram for Ashe County residents. Administrative costs related to the program are covered by unrestricted donations and fundraising events.
The vouchers work by interested parties receiving the voucher and then giving the voucher to the veterinarian. After the pet gets the surgery, the remainder of the surgery cost is then sent to the Ashe Humane Society who pays the veterinarian.
“For all of the vouchers we have issued between 2010 and the end of 2012, our percent outstanding rate was only 12 percent, so 88 percent of people actually claimed the voucher,” Ferguson said. “We have a very good track record.”
Last month, the Board of Commissioners delayed the $2,000 appropriation following public comments in a hearing for the budget. During those comments, it was suggested that the county should not award contracts to nonprofits and that the money should go to keeping the Ashe County Animal Shelter open on Saturdays.
Ferguson addressed the concerns of having a nonprofit receive the taxpayer dollars for the spay-neuter program.
“If you support the idea of spay/neuter vouchers, but prefer for the county agency to administer the fund, we would be happy to share with that department how our system works and what we have learned in the past several years of administering the program,” she said. “The important decision is how to reduce the number of unwanted animals, not who issues the paperwork.”
In addition to voting to release the funds, the board requested that County Manager Sam Yearick look into keeping the Ashe County Animal shelter open from 9 a.m. to noon for three months.
For more information on the Ashe County Humane Society, visit http://ashehumanesociety.org/.
In other action taken by the Board:
• Approved the minutes from previous meetings.
• Approved appointments and reappointments for the Airport Advisory Board, Library Board and Ashe County Planning Board. The commissioners also agreed that Vice Chair Judy Porter Poe will be the voting delegate for Ashe County to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners at its annual conference.
• The Ashe County Board of Commissioners went into executive session to discuss legal issues.
• In attendance were: Larry Rhodes, William Sands, Gary Roark, Gerald Price and Judy Porter Poe. The next meeting will take place on Monday, July 21.
• Citizens with disabilities requiring special needs to access the services or public meetings of Ashe County Government should contact the County Manager’s Office three days prior to the meeting by calling (336) 846-5501.
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.