Supervisors wonder about high cost of shelter

The Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport has colorful walls and long hallways.
The Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport has colorful walls and long hallways. jmitchell@sunherald.com

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors wants some answers from the Humane Society of South Mississippi before it pays the animal shelter almost $15,000 a month for the next year.

According to a report HSSM gave the supervisors, the shelter took in 1,232 animals from the county in 2015. The shelter in 2015 took in 7,287 animals, 4,242 of them were adopted, 782 returned to owners, 108 taken to other states on the Love Train and 1,449 were euthanized, according to HSSM.org.

“Man, that seems like a high price to pay, $14,000 a month for twelve hundred animals,” Supervisor Angel Kibler-Middleton said. “Man, that twelve hundred animals costs us a lot.”

A motion to approve the agreement to pay $14,961 a month for the next 12 months was defeated by supervisors who wanted to negotiate with HSSM.

HSSM Executive Director Lori West said she planned to meet with supervisors within the next couple of weeks to answer any questions they have.

“We already had our budget hearing and answered all the questions they had then, but apparently one supervisor wasn’t able to be there,” she said. “We will go back and answer any other questions.”

The $14,961 is not the only cost to the county.

According to the agreement HSSM wants the county to sign, the county would have to pay an additional $12.50 per day for every animal from the county that has bitten someone or that is a subject of a court case.

The county also would be liable for the cost of emergency medical care from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday or anytime on Saturday or Sunday.

Supervisor Marlin Ladner said the number of animals from the county wouldn’t be as large if it weren’t for people in the cities driving to the country and dumping animals.

And, supervisors said, when someone picks up a pet that has wound up at the Gulfport shelter, a fee is charged. That fee goes to the shelter, too, even if that pet was turned in to the county.

“Our taxes go to fund this and you turn around and charge the people $350 to pick up a dog,” Kibler-Middleton said. “We approved their budget but it’s just so much money.

“Taxpayers are already paying that money and if you go down there and your dog needs to be spayed, it costs $300 more.”

Paul Hampton: 228-896-2330, @JPaulHampton