By mid-August, the Putnam County Humane Shelter will temporarily close due to financial issues.
"It is really a health and safety issue," Shelter Board Representative Lynn Bohmer told Putnam County Commissioners Jim Baird and Gene Beck at Monday night's meeting.
Due to cuts in funding and needed building repairs the shelter cannot continue to operate. Board members are hoping that temporarily closing the shelter will give them enough time to raise the necessary $20,000 in reserve funds they need to supplement the $13,000 monthly costs to operate the facility.
The shelter had its funding cut several months ago and has been operating on donations and their reserve funds.
Animals currently housed at the shelter will be sent to foster homes and adopted homes. A large number were recently part of a large transport to the east coast.
Animals on the east coast are spayed and neutered and have fines of anywhere from $25-50 attached to those who do not neuter animals. They all also pay a $10 tagging fee Bohmer told the commissioners.
After closing the facility, the shelter board will continue to fundraise in hopes of getting enough money to eventually re-open. They will continue to provide low cost micro-chipping and vaccines for animals.
"Since I have been working out at the shelter, we did not receive one animal that has been inoculated for rabies or neutered," Bohmer said. "This is a safety issue for all animals.
Closing the shelter will cause problems for the county as well as towns like Bainbridge and Roachdale who already have animal control issues.
"Dogs are going to get dumped," said Bohmer. "People already dump them over the fence at the shelter. It's going to get worse," she warned the commissioners.
A discussion ensured about enforcing and collecting the dog tag tax in the county.
"I get a notice in the mail and send it in," Beck told the group. "I know a lot of people don't send it in."
Putnam County's dog tax is $5. One dollar of that goes to the state. Each tag costs $.75 that only leaves $3.25 per animal per year.
"That's not much money to work with," commented Beck.
Beck and Baird agreed that if all the towns could come up with funds for a countywide program the county could also offer some funds. The two suggested Bohmer work with a group and include one of the commissioners to try to come up with a solution.
In the meantime, after August, stray dogs and cats will remain a nuisance and have no home.
In other business the commissioners agreed to review an ordinance requiring a reflective symbol on structures with engineered lumber. This is for the protection of firefighters who may have a shortened period of time to determine whether to enter a burning structure.
Putnam County Emergency Management Director Kim Hyten told the board that firefighters use to have about 20 minutes burn time to enter a structure.
"With so many building materials having prefabricated joists and truss rafters which are held together by a glue which burns and falls apart at 400-500 degrees, it is more dangerous to enter," he explained.
Commissioners took the ordinance under advisement.
Hyten introduced Indiana State Department Emergency Management Director John Schoffer who asked the board to approve a fire training grant for $140,000.
"It costs $800-$1,000 for basic training for firefighters. This grant pays for any firefighters who need training and apply for it in seven counties including Putnam. The grant was approved.
Jules Echelbarger from Rural Transit appeared before the commissioners to explain some of the services they could offer Putnam County residents. She proposed providing a county sweep service from approximately 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. daily plus additional rides upon demand. These would be individuals needing rides to medical facilities, shopping or recreational areas.
"Many daycare centers and Parks and Recreation programs use the ride program during the summer for visits to the swimming pool or parks," she told the group.
Echelbarger is also eager to work with the senior centers to supplement their transportation programs. Proposed fares are $.75 for travel in one county and $1.50 for adults in two counties and $1 for children under 15.
More information will be available at the July County Council meeting when Rural Transit makes a proposal to members.
The next meeting of the county commissioners will be Monday, June 30 at 9 a.m. at the County Annex.