Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County Humane Society asks City Commission for help with local animal situation

Stephens County Humane Society asks City Commission for help with local animal situation
July 07
13:33 2022

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Several members of the Stephens County Humane Society attended the Breckenridge City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, July 5, and asked for help with the animal situation in the community.

Kathy O’Shields, president of the local Humane Society, spoke during the public commentary section of the meeting. She said the organization is contacted constantly by people in the community who don’t know what to do about stray animals or pets they can no longer take care of.

“The animal shelter has a fantastic animal control officer,” O’Shields said. “She is doing her best to find the owners of animals that are found loose. She’s doing a fantastic job, and that we can thank Chief Cantrell for hiring her.”

When the City ended most of the animal shelter services in 2020, the Humane Society began paying for stray dogs to be housed at a local boarding facility until homes could be found for them. However, that facility closed last month, O’Shields said, and the Humane Society is now limited to eight kennels to house the animals in temporarily. Some local residents also provide temporary shelter for dogs through a foster system.

The community has a big problem with stray dogs and cats, she said, and the Humane Society is out of space to house them. Since January, they have sent 75 dogs to Colorado through a shelter that they work with there.

The City Animal Shelter, which is now operated as a part of the police department, only takes in dogs that are picked up in town for city ordinance violations, she said. The City no longer takes puppies or owner-surrendered animals. Those cases are referred to the Humane Society, which has had to turn down requests to take local dogs because they don’t have room to house them. Additionally, the City shelter is limited in the number of animals it can house because some of the kennels there are in disrepair.

“We’re asking if y’all will consider, please consider, doing the repairs at the shelter so all the kennels would be operational,” O’Shields said to the commissioners. “We realize … (the animal control officer) can’t take on taking care of all these dogs and doing her job on the street. We’re asking if you would consider, within your next year’s budget … if you would give Chief Cantrell enough money that he can hire another, at least, part-time person from Monday through Friday, say, eight to 12, or something like that, to go in and clean and feed…

“We will do our best to continue to do everything we can to help the community,” she continued. “But we’ve got to have some help from the city.”

O’Shields said Breckenridge has good city ordinances about dog ownership, including requirements that dogs be spayed or neutered, licensed, secured by a leash unless on private property, and vaccinated against rabies. She said the Humane Society supports the Breckenridge Police Department writing tickets for violations of the ordinances. Click here to read all of the City of Breckenridge’s animal-related ordinances.

When there isn’t enough space to house stray dogs and there aren’t enough people to take care of them, the only solution left is to euthanize otherwise adoptable animals, she said. “It’s hard on everybody, when you have highly adoptable dogs but not always a place to put them,” O’Shields said. “…It’s not the animals’ fault. It’s the people within the community who failed to be responsible. We would like to see if (the City) would be willing to form a committee to try to see if we can all come up with a solution to some of the problems, to meet with us to try to see what we can do. We’re open for suggestions. We hope y’all will be open for our suggestions.”

Mayor Bob Sims said the commission will start working on the next budget soon and the topic will be brought up then.

At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Greg Akers requested that the topic be put on the commission’s next agenda to see how the City can help.

Public Water System Report

Breckenridge Public Works Director Houston Satterwhite presented the recent Consumer Confidence Report for the City of Breckenridge’s Public Water System.

“It simply states that we do have good drinking water,” Satterwhite said.

He also explained that the water may taste different in different parts of town because of the type of pipes that are used by the City, as well as the pipes that are used in each house.

Click here to see the report.

City Manager

The City Commissioners met in closed session for about 40 minutes to discuss “Personnel Matters,” specifically “City Manager” and “Interim City Manager,” according to the agenda.

When the commissioners reconvened in open session, they held no public discussions and took no actions on those topics.

The commissioners have not publicly discussed the Breckenridge City Manager position since Erika McComis’ resignation was accepted on June 13. At that meeting, they also agreed to contract with Texas First Group for interim city manager services. An interim city manager worked for four days before leaving because it “wasn’t a good fit,” according to the City. His departure was acknowledged at a special commission meeting on June 28. No information has been provided regarding the City’s current agreement with Texas First or the search for a city manager or interim city manager.

Other Business

In other business Tuesday night, the commissioners:

  • Received a report from Will Thompson regarding the Stephens County Appraisal District;
  • Approved an amendment to the contract with Republic Services to allow Republic to handle the billing for the City’s commercial trash accounts;
  • Approved the minutes from the previous three meetings; and,
  • Approved a resolution for an investment policy for the City of Breckenridge

 

Cutline, top photo: Kathy O’Shields, president of the Stephens County Humane Society, talks to the Breckenridge City Commission about helping with the local animal situation. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

 


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