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The city of New Albany has taken bids for an independent contractor to take over animal control in the city. Six proposed contractors have turned in bids, ranging from about $25,000 to $45.000 a year for a four-year contract.
As we understand it, the city has listed 15 specifications for the job, including submitting to criminal and financial background checks, maintaining general and automobile liability insurance, and furnishing traps, a kennel and vehicle.
The city also wants the contractor to be on call 24 hours a day, to furnish veterinary, medical and euthanasia supplies and a tranquilizer gun and an animal taser device.
The contractor would be required to submit to firearms training by the New Albany Police Department and maintain records of all animals taken into custody, boarded, released to owners, adopted out or euthanized.
We don’t quarrel with the need to have an animal control program; in fact we think an effective program is important. But we urge the city to study carefully the various aspects of quality comprehensive programs in other cities before moving forward.
We have a couple of concerns with the current plan as we understand it. First, we question whether we need someone who is not a police officer out carrying a firearm while representing the city in our community.
It seems to us that there is potential for a serious problem here. We have a well trained police force and we think any situation that would require the use of a gun within the city limits ought to be handled by a professional.
And before letting a contract, we think the city should have a comprehensive plan in place that makes it easy – and at low cost – for a pet owner to retrieve his or her pet.
But our major concern is the lack of emphasis on pet adoption and on a spay and neuter program. We don’t see anything in the current specifications that puts a focus on getting animals adopted or providing regular daily and weekend hours for people interested in adopting a pet.
In fact, so far we have heard little discussion of operating a significant adoption program or providing a low-cost spay and neuter program, both important parts of any quality program. Reducing the number of dog and cats births is as important as trying to catch and kill them later.
We think there should be a community discussion of these issues before moving forward with accepting one of the current bids.