ST. ANTHONY — On May 23, Liz Pope and other local citizens made two proposals to the city council. One was for renovations to the local dog pound and the other is for a feral animal curtailment program due to the large amount of feral bunnies and cats.
Pope and the group have been discussing this issue and corresponding with locals and the city for several months.
At the meeting, Pope and the group asked the city to help supplement the $740 they’ve already raised to renovate the pound. The project itself will cost about $2000.
“The cost is so low because a lot of the materials and all of the labor will be donated at no cost from awesome local businesses and citizen groups,” Pope said.
Pope said that they want to almost double the dog pound’s floor size, increasing the space and then gut and revamp the inside. They also want to acquire new kennels, new windows, install new ventilation and doors, as well as add a dog run area on the outside so dogs can go in and out without leaving the pound itself.
The second part of the group’s proposal is to implement a trap neuter release program, according to the draft form of the minutes recorded from the city council meeting. Pope mentioned how currently people can borrow traps from the city and then trap cats and bunnies as they see fit. She told the council about possible legal dangers that could fall on locals if that practice continues.
“To legally do a TNR (Trap Neuter Release) Program you have to sign so many forms or else you can go to jail, because it is stealing or destruction of property,” the draft minutes read. “If a 501©(3) is liable for trapping a cat that belongs to someone else, then how much more vulnerable is an individual to that kind of litigation. It is not a good solution and the City is encouraging people to do their own trapping. She said the person from the Humane Society in Idaho Falls told her this. If you responsibly decide to own a cat, you invest $80 to $100 to spay or neuter the cat. Then another $100 in vaccines and veterinary care, not including the litter and food. That is a piece of property that someone has invested $200 or $300. If the cat wanders outside and gets into someone else’s trap. That’s intruding on the rights of citizens. A lot of people need cats to cut down on the rodent population. That is a right being intruded on with the current policy and can get people into trouble.”
The only issue the city seems to have with the TNR program is the cost. According to the draft of the minutes, Sarah Dunster described how she went to look at how much it would cost to spay or neuter animals in the area and how much it would cost to euthanize stray animals in the area if required.
“Dunster said if they contract with Officer Buzzle in Rexburg it’s about $30 to euthanize,” the draft minutes read. “There is a veterinarian in Shelley who is willing to do neutering for $50 and spaying for $60. There is another in Meridian, although she didn’t think they would drive four hours, they do neutering for $30 and spaying for $50. Dunster said she is hoping to take these numbers to the local vets and see if they can match these numbers. Not knowing how many cats are in the city she thought they could manage 100 cats in one year. If they were euthanizing them, that would be $3,000 and spaying or neutering at the high end would be $6,000. The re-homed cats would have adopting costs and that would go to the city, between $3,000 and $6,000 for one year.”
When asked if the city has decided to approve this plan, Mayor Donald Powell said no.
“I wasn’t there but my understanding is no, they didn’t agree to any of it,” Mayor Powell said. “We’ll have to look at the budget and to be real honest. I don’t know what they want to remodel, the dog pound is more than adequate for the amount of dogs that we put in.”
Patty Parkinson, City Clerk for St. Anthony, said that during the meeting, she felt that there were two suggestions made by Council Member Chad Quayle. One was to first review city ordinances to see if any changes are necessary, and to allow Chief Neff to come back with information on similar ordinances that Idaho Falls has.
And the second suggestion was to allow the finance committee to look into what budget changes could be made to afford this project.
When asked about how he felt the meeting went Rod Willmore, the city council president, said that he felt that the issue will probably come up in another council meeting.
“We support what they’re doing but we want to look into it more,” Willmore said. “And the chief of police will help us look into it, but we haven’t made a decision yet.”
Parkinson said that a formal decision could be made once this item gets back on the agenda.
“We’re waiting for the city to decide what happens next and what the next step will be, we’re so thankful that they agree that these projects need to be done,” Pope said.
The Standard Journal will continue to update the situation as more information becomes available.