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Longview animal shelter officials still considering proposed fee increases

By Jimmy Isaac
April 20, 2017 at 11:08 p.m.

Animal Shelter Advisory Committee members Angie Hollis and  Janel Allen take a tour of the Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center on Wednesday March 8, 2017. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The cost of surrendering animals in Longview likely is going up, but shelter directors say they're still evaluating proposed fee increases.

Three members of the city's Animal Shelter Advisory Board met Thursday for a regular meeting. It was one member short of a quorum, so the board scheduled a meeting for May 4 to consider fee changes at the Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center.

Executive Director Shannon DeRosa said she's received no feedback either in support or against fee changes she proposed March 8, "so we were definitely in the right position." However, she wants to keep fees low enough to prevent people from illegally dumping or inhumanely discarding of animals.

Adoption fees would remain unchanged under DeRosa's proposal.

Among the changes she is considering is the $50 fee for Longview or Gregg County owners who surrender a dog or cat. She initially proposed raising the fee to $80, but councilwoman and board liaison Kristen Ishihara suggested setting the fee instead at $114 — the same amount charged to owners living outside of the city, county or areas under contract with the shelter.

"I know (Ishihara) also sees the other part of this and what went into financially getting (the shelter) up and running and what the true cost per animal is," DeRosa said, "and I don't think we'll ever be able to charge that."

As for the "out-of-jurisdiction" fee for owners outside Longview or Gregg County, DeRosa wants to increase it to $125.

"I would like to keep our out-of-jurisdiction fee the same as at least our contractual fee to the agencies that we contract with," she said, "because if I keep it lower than that, then what's the incentive?"

Animal reclamation fees also would increase under the plan.

First-time reclaim fees would increase from $50 to $100, and second-time reclaim fees would increase from $75 to $125, she said. A third reclaim not only would increase 35 percent to $135, but the shelter also would require mandatory spaying and neutering. Currently, sterilization is required when an animal is reclaimed a fourth time or more by an owner.

All fees would be negotiable depending on the situation, directors said.

"If it's in the best interest of the animal to take it, sometimes it's 'What can you do?' " Animal Control Supervisor Chris Kemper said, "and we always do what's in the best interest for the animal. If we think they're going to take the animal down the street, if we have to waive the charge, we're going to do that every time."

Added DeRosa, "We're here for the animals ... All of these fees are completely negotiable with staff and based on the circumstances of the person standing in front of us, based on what our capacity is that day, (and) based on what our resources are."

Shelter directors said they will communicate with advisory board members to ensure there is a quorum for the May 4 meeting, set for 12:15 p.m. at the center at 303 H.G. Mosley Parkway. During that meeting, the board could recommend a shelter fee schedule. The proposal then would need City Council approval to take effect when the fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

"I'm open for suggestions," DeRosa told board members. "I don't want to go so high that everything is a stray and then we're clogged up because we have to hold everything for 72 hours, versus a true owner release that we can look at (the animal), exam it, vet it and put it right out for adoption."

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