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Humane Society to close doors

The end is nearing for animal control operations at the Escambia County Humane Society.

In a Tuesday county commission workshop, ECHS president Joe Thomas informed commissioners the board voted Monday to cease operations – unless the county could increase its annual $120,000 contribution to $200,000.

“At this point, the board has decided that without other funding, we’re going to opt out of the shelter business and re-organize and be committed to spaying and neutering and education,” Thomas said.

Last week, the City of Brewton announced it was opting out of its $65,000-per year contract with the humane society for animal control services, claiming it could operate and staff its own operation with the current budget amount. City officials cited a lack of response on complaints as the reason for the separation.

After some discussion, commissioners agreed there wasn’t enough money in the budget to meet the request. Now the group must decide how to continue offering animal control services to county residents.

Thomas said the facility’s current director said the commission’s annual allocation has been spent and an additional $32,000 is needed to continue operations through August. That figure does include past-due accounts payable, but does not include the director’s salary, Thomas said.

“She has agreed to back that figure out if it will help operations,” he said.

Commissioners asked County Administrator Tony Sanks to obtain the shelter’s true operational figures before making a decision.

“But we need to act pretty quickly on this,” Chairman David Stokes said. “Our challenge is to figure out how to combine good animal control with something we can afford.”

The commission meets for its regular meeting Monday at 9 a.m.