Humane Society to keep running Jefferson shelter

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County commissioners Monday renewed a license agreement with the Humane Society of Jefferson County to operate the county-owned animal shelter at 112 Critter Lane near Port Townsend.

The nonprofit organization ran the shelter under a similar agreement in 2012.

Next year, the Humane Society will cover all of its utility costs.

Paul Becker, president of the Humane Society of Jefferson County, estimated the annual utility costs to be $10,000 to $12,000. The county footed the electric and water bills this year.

Jefferson County stopped running the animal shelter last Jan. 1 as sheriff’s deputies shifted their focus to animal control.

In the past, the county paid about $220,000 a year to manage the shelter and provide animal control.

“It’s worked fine,” Becker said of the new arrangement. “We were pretty much involved with the shelter beforehand. The Humane Society was paying for the clerical help.”

Becker said the county couldn’t afford to continue to operate the shelter because animal control is a non-mandated service.

“They’re giving up parks and everything else, and the Humane Society is going to be on the list,” Becker said.

County Commissioner David Sullivan said the county has been moving toward a long-term licensing agreement with the Humane Society.

He said the organization has been “gradually taking on the whole function in the last couple years.”

“It’s kind of a progression,” Sullivan said. “We’re just kind of moving in that direction.”

Sullivan said the volunteers at the Humane Society are providing an important service that the county can no longer afford.

“We want them to be successful,” he said. “We’ve got a really good Humane Society over here.”

People from other counties occasionally come to Jefferson County to adopt a pet because the dogs and cats are treated so well at the shelter, Sullivan said.

In addition to utilities, the Humane Society of Jefferson County will pay a $4,131 leasehold excise tax.

The agreement allows for extensions into 2014 and beyond.

“If the license agreement is extended into future years, it is envisioned that the Humane Society would also pay for the county’s annual maintenance cost and depreciation of the facility to pay for its capital maintenance,” the agreement states.

Moving the shelter outside of the auspice of government is an idea that has been in the works since 2005.

The Sheriff’s Office still answers calls at all hours about animals that have injured people or have escaped. Deputies also intervene in cases where animals need protection, such as being in a car when the driver has been arrested.

The shelter near the county transfer station has space for 10 dogs and 18 cats.

The Humane Society of Jefferson County relies on licensing and service fees and donations to stay open.

It lists the dogs and cats it puts up for on adoption on

Reporter Charlie Bermant contributed to this report.

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsula

Last modified: December 24. 2012 5:47PM
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