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News Section: Local Government

Animal Advocates Rally Over Possible Animal Service Budget Cuts

Published Friday, June 17, 2011 2:00 am
BRADENTON – Hundreds of animal rights advocates rallied in front of the Manatee County Commission headquarters before the budget meeting last night to protest possible budget cuts for animal services. Although staff supported funding for the program, Commissioners Donna Hayes and Joe McClash flagged the item for review. This did not sit well with organizations like the Humane Society who have been working officials to advance a “no kill” policy.

“Keeping the adoption center is the only way to no kill,” said Laurie Crawford, chairman of the animal services advisory board. “Every man, woman and child pays about $4.00 a year for county animal services, and I bet most of them would give up their latte or their slurpie to keep those services going.”

In January 2011, it looked as if the county was headed in that direction when they opened a downtown adoption center to further promote animal acceptance, but when Donna Hayes appeared on ABC News earlier this week, claiming that the adoption aspect of animal services needed to be outsourced, residents became upset. Commissioners instantly received over one thousand emails regarding the issue.

Carol Whitmore, who has been a promoter of animal rights from the start, showed up at the rally encouraging people to comment publically at the hearing.

Two hundred people crowded into commission chambers, several signing up for public comment. Right after the meeting began, Ed Hunzeker clarified that the flag had been to give the department more funding – not take it away, and that the whole thing was a misunderstanding.

“I take responsibility for this controversy,” said McClash. “I brought this up at the budget work session because I wanted to challenge whether we could do more. Unfortunately, a mixed message got out. I don’t think anyone wanted to cut the budget.”

But residents claimed that Donna Hayes' responses were rude and anti-animal. Hayes commented that although she hadn’t seen the TV program, she hoped it conveyed her desire to hear from constituents regarding the issue.

“The TV station called me and I commented that I wanted to look into outsourcing. I’m an advocate of outsourcing and I have been my whole life, but I realize that some things cannot be outsourced.”

Currently the animal shelter works closely with the Humane Society and other organizations to transfer adoptable animals after ten days of being in the animal shelter which is the maximum amount of time they can stay there.

Without shelter services impounded dogs and cats will only received minimal care. No adoption or transfer program for dogs would be funded, which will result in a 91 percent euthanasia rate. Any animal not claimed within 7 to 10 days would also be euthanized.

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