COLUMBIA — Boone County Animal Control headquarters will move as early as Tuesday from the Central Missouri Humane Society to the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health and Human Services on West Worley Street, freeing up more resources for both agencies.
Health Director Stephanie Browning said moving the six full-time Animal Control officers signals a shift in responsibilities. Now, employees at the Health Department, instead of Humane Society workers, will answer and dispatch calls.
With the Humane Society operating five days a week, Animal Control needed additional support. This is what initiated the change, along with the Humane Society's need for space, Browning said.
The 2008 contract between the two agencies equaled $101,719, including almost $60,000 for kennel/shelter expenses and $10,000 in veterinary medicine/vaccinations. The Humane Society also receives $10,395 for office space and $20,654 for daytime reception and dispatching for Animal Control operations. Even after the move, this money will be left in the contract, Browning said, giving the Humane Society the flexibility to reallocate these funds to find "wiser ways to make use of the money."
Patty Forister, executive director of the Humane Society, said the shelter has proposed a voucher program to promote low-cost spaying and neutering that the shelter provides.
“The value of the voucher is between $60 and $70, depending on the size of the animal,” Forister said. The Humane Society will provide 250 vouchers for Animal Control to distribute to owners who can’t afford the operation on their nuisance animals that have been picked up by officers after having been reported to the agency.
“We feel like this is an innovative way to earn funding from the city, a great way to benefit our community and pursue our CMHS mission,” Forister said.
The Humane Society is operating from a two-month extension of the 2008 budget. A written contract for the remaining 10 months of 2009 hadn't been submitted to the City Council. As of Friday, no proposal for the 2009 budget has been drawn up, but the Humane Society board of directors is scheduled to meet Monday in a closed meeting to discuss what will be submitted for City Council approval.
Along with a chance to get creative with the budget, the new arrangement also provides the Humane Society with additional space in which to operate.
“They’re packed to the gill,” Browning said. “Every little bit will help, I’m sure.”
Although relinquishing the office space, Animal Control will still have access to a small work station at the shelter for animal evaluation. The shelter also will continue providing kennels to house impounded animals.
Gerry Worley, environmental health manager for the Health Department, said the move was a “big change.”
“We’ve been housed at the Humane Society for the last 30 or 40 years,” he said.
The new office space at the Health Department was originally used for storage. With some reorganization and cleaning, animal control officers have a place to call their own. Yet, even though the location is set to change, the phone number will remain the same. Residents can still reach officers at 449-1888.
“To the citizen, nothing will change,” Browning said. “We’re going to move everything out and we’ll keep working.”
Worley said the move should occur between Tuesday and Friday.
“There’s not an absolute time, but it looks like it could be late next week,” Worley said. “Somewhere in that four-day window is when I’m hoping to accomplish it.”
Although the 2.9-mile move is just around the corner, Worley said some details remain unclear.
“It is going to be a little bit of a logistical nightmare,” Worley said. “We’re going to have to get in our car and drive down (to the shelter) to release an animal to you.”
Despite his hesitation, Worley is optimistic about the change.
“We’re going to make it work for sure,” he said.