By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – An intergovernmental agreement between the villages of Howard and Suamico for animal control services this year was approved 6-1 earlier this month by the Suamico village board.
Trustee Michelle Eckert, who objected to the village spending money on trapping and sterilizing stray animals, cast the lone dissenting vote.
“I don’t understand why we have to trap animals and fix them,” Eckert said. “I don’t understand. That costs a lot of money. Can’t people take care of their own animals?”
Village Administrator Alex Kaker said Suamico’s annual budget for the animal control program is around $9,300, though actual expenditures haven’t been reaching $8,000.
Monica Hoff, the animal control/humane officer for the Village of Suamico, spoke regarding this year’s contract.
Hoff said the program doesn’t trap people’s cats, but rather it traps free-roaming strays or feral cats that can’t be adopted.
To lower the feral cat population, Hoff said the Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) program has been implemented in Suamico.
This saves the village approximately 40 percent per cat with a non-lethal method that sterilizes, vaccinates and leaves these cats with people who are already monitoring them.
She said the TNR program, which also receives donations, is a small portion of the animal control services budget with about 10 cats per year.
Trustee Jason Ward said he wholeheartedly supports the TNR program.
“Some people are fortunate enough maybe to be more confined in a residential area and maybe not have that problem, but I know for some of our more rural residential (areas there is the potential for) where you could have six to eight different feral cats running through your property,” Ward said.
Hoff said code enforcement, such as with handling complaints, is probably the biggest portion of the animal control services contract.
The 2020 agreement includes increasing the charge for a Citizen Animal Response Team (CART) animal call by $2 to $17 per call, plus mileage.
The contract also limits the maximum amount spent on a vet clinic visit for an animal captured and transported to $100, unless authorized by the humane officer.
Hoff said the charge for a vet clinic visit is “kind of moot now” because the Wisconsin Humane Society has taken over the local animal shelter and, when domestic animals are taken to the emergency clinic, the veterinary bills are paid by the society.
“The emergency clinic accepts the animal on behalf of Wisconsin Humane, so the emergency clinic bill actually goes to (the) shelter and not to us,” she said.