Camden Delays Vote on Animal Shelter; Humane Society Gets Time to Suggest Cuts

Article excerpt

Byline: Gordon Jackson, The Times-Union

WOODBINE -- Camden County commissioners tabled a vote Thursday night to create a new animal shelter to house animals from unincorporated areas outside city limits.

The issue will be discussed again at the March 2 commission meeting, which commissioners said will give the organization responsible for running the county's only animal shelter enough time to review its operations and determine any way to cut operating expenses.

Charlotte Bartzack, president of the Humane Society of Camden County, said that she and other members of the organization will explore ways to cut costs but that the shelter is already run on a "shoestring budget."

"There is no way, if you honestly look at every cost, you can do it cheaper than us," Bartzack said. "We would be willing to work with anyone for a mutually beneficial plan."

Commissioners said the only motivation for considering a split from the Humane Society is money.

"If you could do it reasonably, I have no problem," Commission Chairman David Rainer said. "Cost is the real issue."

The county pays the Humane Society about $120,000 a year to house, euthanize and adopt out animals. County officials estimate they could run their own shelter for less than $70,000 a year.

The savings would come from building an outdoor shelter, with no heat or air conditioning, county officials said. The $250,000 Humane Society shelter in Kingsland, built less than five years ago with donations, houses all animals indoors in a fully heated and air conditioned building. Shelter officials said they had planned to build a $100,000 addition to quarantine new animals until tests show whether they have any contagious diseases, until commissioners began discussing a new shelter.

In 2003, Humane Society records show 3,847 animals were brought to the shelter. …