(Crystal A. Proxmire, 3/28/2011)
After city leaders in Ferndale discovered that Oakland County had been providing animal control for free to some municipalities, while charging others for the service, the Oakland County has reshaped its Animal Control program and is now offering free service to any city.
City Council voted on March 28, 2011 to accept the service, and also to end an agreement with nonprofit group Waggs and Wishes, who has been rescuing and sheltering animals since The City of Ferndale eliminated an Animal Control officer position in 2010. The group is expected to be served with 30 days notice within the next few days, meaning they will have to forfeit use of the City-owned shelter for their rescue activities.
Waggs and Wishes has been looking for a new home since early last month when they discovered that County control was imminent. The group has rescued dozens of dogs and cats, and placed many into loving homes. However, they are not trained or equipped to handle other, legally-mandated, Animal Control services such as responding to animal bites, being able to capture dangerous animals, or managing the licensing of dogs. (Learn more about Waggs and Wishes at http://www.waggsandwishes.org/).
They are looking for industrial or commercial space to rent, or to be donated. To learn more about their facility needs, and how their search is going, see this previous article – http://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/02/12/waggs-wishes-seeks-building/.
“I want to be clear that Wags and Wishes can operate fully as a nonprofit, providing these [animal rescue and shelter] services,” said Councilperson Melanie Piana. She also noted that nonprofit shelters can work with the County, but that the City is not allowed to be part of such agreements.
“This is a wonderful nonprofit. They stepped up when Ferndale did not have an opportunity to provide these services,” said Mayor Dave Coulter. “We need to terminate our formal obligation with them as part of our agreement with Oakland County,” he said, but added that it is with gratitude and on good terms.
Police Chief Timothy Collins also praised Waggs and Wishes for the services they provided. He recommended that the group be allowed to keep and maintain the animals currently in their care, as long as they vacate the building by the date required.
Collins is pleased with relinquishing Animal Control to the County. “We’ve picked up a lot of duties [since Animal Control position was eliminated] we’re familiar with because we’ve had to do them on off hours anyway… but this will be a big relief,” Collins said.
Councilperson Kate Baker clarified her view on the service. “It’s not free,” she said. “It’s part of the taxes we pay to the county. It’s more a return on investment for what we already pay.”
City leaders had been surprised to learn that Oakland County had not been providing equal access to County Animal Control Services. Police Chief Timothy Collins credited his secretary for discovering the disparities while looking for ways to save the department money. Mayor Dave Coulter, who was then the County Commissioner representing Ferndale, Hazel Park and part of Royal Oak, brought the issue to the attention of colleagues, who worked together to insist that the County change its program offerings. (More info: http://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/01/24/free-animal-control-service-by-county/)
The chain of events means that beginning in May animal related complaints and concerns will be turned over to Oakland County Animal Control. Their website is http://www.oakgov.com/petadoption/animal_control/.