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Jefferson County shelter struggles to stay open after commission freezes funding

The Humane Society of Jefferson County said it's struggling to stay open after losing its funding from the county commission. Commissioners were upset after a decision was made in December to no longer accept surrendered animals unless there's space for them.

The Jefferson County Commission put a freeze on $30,000, which is on top of the $70,000 already given to them for the fiscal year. Robert Tucker, the chairman of the Jefferson County Commission, believed the Humane Society of Jefferson County breached the contract.

Bruce Dalgleish is a volunteer at the shelter and recently joined the board of directors. He said they are no longer accepting surrendered animals at any time, but instead by appointment only and when space is available. They decided to make a change because they felt it was a way to avoid euthanizing healthy animals. The decision was made after leadership resigned in December and at that time, they had no one authorized to euthanize animals. 

"They decided to withhold that funding because they felt we were not honoring our obligation at the time," Dalgleish said.

He said the shelter is hurting financially and now must charge people to surrender animals. He is not sure if they will make it until the end of their fiscal year, which is in June. The shelter said it had no choice but to charge people for surrendering animals.

Tucker said the funds were frozen when the shelter decided to end open surrenders. He also strongly opposed charging people to drop off pets.

"I would rather see animals treated humanely than on the street causing accidents," he said.

Dalgleish said they have never turned an animal since December up until last week. The Humane Society of Jefferson County plans to meet with county commissioners later this month to talk about next steps and options.

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