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With a new contract finalized, Fond du Lac is divided over managing stray animals

The city is dividing responsibility and compensation among four organizations
Posted at 8:01 PM, Dec 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-13 21:01:05-05
  • The City of Fond du Lac is partnering with three animal rescues and the Humane Society to manage stray animals.
  • Video shows why some groups disagree on the terms of the contract.

Managing stray animals has been an issue in Fond du Lac for a while. In February, the Humane Society temporarily stopped accepting strays while this year’s contract was negotiated.Now, there’s more disagreement over the 2024 contract.

The Humane Society said they stopped taking strays because they weren’t able to provide 24/7 service to capture strays.

"Calls to go to somebody's house and pick up a stray makes it unsafe for our staff,” Fond du Lac Humane Society Shelter Manager Beth Rogan said.

The city then began using three local rescues: Critter Junction, Sandi Paws, and Lucky Dog to help with the strays.

Now, when people call the police dispatch about a stray, dispatch immediately contacts all three of the rescues at once.

"We all talk together and we decide who was able to take that animal for the night,” Gaby Petersen with Lucky Dog Rescue said.

The new contract will give the three rescue organizations $300 monthly to get the animals back to their owners. Plus, it will give $80 per rescued dog and $10,000 a year for rescuing cats.

That's a significant decrease in funding for the Humane Society, which used to get more than $100,000 yearly for the city.

Now, they'll only get about $26,000.

"It's going to make things more difficult," Rogan said.

But, it's a significant increase for the shelters, who initially did this work for free until the city began paying them a smaller fee in the summer.

Now, all four will get the same amount for dog and cat rescues.

"We wanted to compensate anybody who was doing the services of a humane officer,” Fond du Lac City Manager Joe Moore said.

The humane society argues this is unfair because they house more animals than the rescues, and have higher overhead costs with a bigger building and more staff.

"Just last year we had over 400 cats,” Rogan said.

But, the rescues say this is fair compensation because they respond to after-hour stray animal calls and try to get the animals back home with their owners more immediately.

"You do have to figure out ways to get and keep those animals home,” Renee Web with Critter Junction Rescue said.

That's something the Humane Society says won't work for them because of their staffing and policies, but they have a 24-hour drop-off room for police to bring strays. However, Rogan said it’s never been used.

The city said it’s because the animal rescues helping out means that officers don’t have to take on that responsibility.

"We want to take that workload off of law enforcement," Vicky Timreck of Sandi Paws Rescue said.

The rescues are holding an open meeting Sunday at the Fond du Lac County Expo Center from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Humane Society said they were not invited to this meeting.