Animal services

Task Force Shares Suggestions Regarding Plainview Animal Services

Changes to impound fees, implementing surrender fees, changing the length of time a rescue can be held at the shelter, and changing volunteer guidelines – these are some of the suggestions shared this week with Plainview City Council regarding the operation of the local animal shelter.

The council established an animal services task force in 2019 to assess animal control and animal shelter policies and operations. The task force was meant to be temporary and was to disband after one year following a presentation to the board regarding its findings.

COVID-19 delayed the schedule, and the task force was introduced to the board at a regular meeting on Tuesday evening.

The findings were shared by Deputy City Manager Jeff Johnston on behalf of the task force.

They offered suggestions on a wide range of shelter-related topics, including recommended changes to the city’s animal control ordinance and the topics already mentioned here. For example, the task force suggested increasing the impoundment fee from $25 to $50 for owners who make a first impoundment within a one-year period. Second-time pounds would increase from $50 to $75 and it would cost $100 compared to $60 to retrieve an animal impounded for the third time in a year. If the animal is not repaired, the working group suggests an additional charge of $200. The purpose of these fees is to encourage people to sterilize their animals.

Councilman Larry Williams said the fee seemed too high. Rather than emptying the shelter, he thinks these fees will create the opposite effect.

“I agree with what you are doing here. I don’t think it’s affordable,” he said. “Then I have this other concern. What to do with an elderly person who has a pet that is mostly in the house all the time? If that little dog or cat escapes, we’re on a fixed income, I’m just saying, just something to think about. It’s quite expensive for the citizens of Plainview. I think you’re going to have a crowded shelter.

Councilor Susan Blackerby, also Mayor of Pro-Tem, said she agreed it was expensive but could be a solution to a “usual problem” of irresponsible pet ownership.

Johnston mentioned discussing a low-cost sterilization program to combat this problem as well.

A few minutes later, Mayor Charles Starnes reminded those present that council was simply listening to the task force’s report. No action was taken from the report. It was presented more as a piece of information as the city moves forward to figure out what will happen next with its animal control program.

The lengthy report also included a section focusing on the creation of a new, more modern animal shelter.

Mike Barnard, a representative from Shelters of America, joined the meeting virtually to talk about this topic.

He also shared some stats for Plainview and the Lubbock area.

Plainview had a population of about 19,793 in 2020, he said. A city’s animal intake is typically 2% to 3% of its human population, making Plainview’s estimated intake 6.22%. And it should increase, he said.

He shared some ideas and prices for shelter designs that might better meet those numbers.

According to Barnard’s presentation, the estimated total project costs to build a shelter, furnishings and staff could range between $1.1 million and $2 million.

After the meeting, City Manager Jeffrey Snyder again stressed that the presentation was informational only.

The Board voted unanimously to accept the presentation, but will now consider the information as a mere suggestion and not as a defined action plan. Council member Norma Juarez was absent.

Any real action on the shelter is still months away, Mayor Starnes noted after the vote.