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Fond du Lac Humane Society no longer accepting strays

Local rescues are helping with stray animals as the humane society and the city negotiate a new contract.
Fond du Lac Humane Society
Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 08, 2023

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — The City of Fond du Lac and local rescues are working to take care of stray cats and dogs after the Fond du Lac Humane Society announced on Feb. 14 that it will no longer be accepting strays.

In a statement on their website, the humane society said it was having contract disagreements with the city about the scope of work, how much funding they would receive and what to do about stray cats. They said they were unable to provide 24/7 staffing and required additional compensation for rising costs. They said city funding accounts for about 17% of their funding, and most of it comes from donations.

The humane society declined an interview, but said in a statement to NBC 26: “The FDL Humane Society is no longer willing to subsidize the cities [sic] responsibility. By working together, we can reduce the costs for everyone and at the same time ensure the programs are in the best interest of the animals.”

City Manager Joe Moore said if the humane society can no longer offer 24/7 service, the city will need to figure out another plan.

“As far as the scope of work goes, we really want an assurance that if, if for example, the humane society is open 30 hours a week, and there's another 138 hours a week we have to cover, that we have after hours access to their facility for law enforcement personnel,” Moore said.

The humane society said in a statement that they are willing to allow law enforcement to have 24/7 access to their lobby to drop off animals, but they still disagree about the rate of compensation and what to do about feral cats.

The humane society said in a statement that they took in 977 animals in 2022, 823 of which were from the city. The contract between the city and the humane society states that the city paid the humane society $113,510 in 2020, $144,655 in 2021 and $115,802 in 2022. The humane society said it initially requested $175,000 for 2023, and the city initially offered $116,960. Currently, the compensation is still in negotiation.

Moore said that if the hours of service is decreased, the amount the city is paying should be reevaluated.

“Essentially, in our view, the scope of work was being reduced, and I think that's pretty well understood," Moore said. "And so our thought was that with less work that would be provided, with less services being provided, that the cost we were paying, that the City of Fond du Lac was paying, would be reduced also.”

The humane society said in a statement to NBC 26: “Our no longer providing 24/7, 365 on demand service is not a reason to decrease even further the amount the City [sic] offered to pay. That service alone would cost us more than the entire amount the City [sic] was willing to pay and does not even take into account additional staffing, animal care and medical expenses and operational costs. We still provide care for the animals in our facility 24/7, 365.”

The humane society said the issue of feral cats is another topic in negotiations.

The organization said in a statement to NBC 26: “The feral cat problem in the City [sic] is very bad. We have not seen a break in kitten season this year and the numbers continue to grow… We need to include being able to accept feral cats as part of the City [sic] contract. In addition to it being a problem we feel the City [sic] must accept responsibility for, we often are unable to tell upon intake if a cat is truly feral or if it is just a scared stray.”

Moore said they are working on the issue.

“What we were concerned about is looking at what the normal market costs are for,” Moore said. “If someone brings in a feral cat, or identifies a feral cat, or in some cases traps one because they want it to be gone, and they bring it to the Humane Society or another rescue, what's the typical charge for that? And so we were trying and working toward agreeing on that charge.”

He said they are also working to differentiate between feral and stray cats.

In the meantime, law enforcement and the city are working with three local rescues: Critter Junction Rescue, Lucky Dog Rescue and Sandi Paws rescue to take care of strays.

Renee Webb, executive director of Critter Junction, said they were "stunned" by the humane society’s announcement.

“We all looked at it as now what?” Webb said. “I mean literally, the city is going to be overrun with lost and stray animals. These animals have absolutely nowhere to go and it's not right.”

Webb said that the three rescues combined have taken in about a dozen animals in the past two weeks, but they will not have the space to house all of strays.

“The one thing that we need the community to understand is that collectively, the three of us, we don't have the facility to take in the volume of animals that we're talking about,” Webb said. “So we are just trying to do the absolute best we can.”

Webb said they’ve largely been relying on community members to take in animals.

“The community is always willing to pour their hearts out and show their support in making sure that the pets are cared for,” Webb said.

Gaby Petersen, owner of Lucky Dog Rescue, said there has been some confusion since the humane society’s announcement.

“Not only are we confused, but so are community members,” Petersen said. “And so they don't know what to do necessarily when their animal gets away on them, or if they see an animal and they don't know who to call. And so we've been trying to go on social media and get the message out that, you know, we’re the people that you need to call.”

The humane society and the city said they are still in contract negotiations and do not know when they might reach a solution.

In the meantime, the rescues will work to find shelter for strays.

"It would be really great if you know our community to come together and fix this situation quickly," Petersen said. "But until then, we will be that resource. We're not going to stop taking care of animals. We're not going to stop picking up stray animals or anything of that nature. So we'll be their voice until they have a better network again."