Human Society of Jackson County President Diana Yates and volunteer Janice Brumfield reached out to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners this past week for help in finding a new location for the group's Rascal Unit Clinics.
The two women told the commissioners during the Wednesday, Sept. 6 meeting that they have recently been informed that the location they have used for the past seven to eight years at the Jackson County Fairgrounds will no longer be available to them. The Rascal Units have been coming to the area for the past 10 years and originate from the Rascal Animal Hospital in Dublin, Ohio. These mobile animal clinics provide local pet owners with cheaper spay/neuter and rabies vaccination services.
Yates explained that the local Humane Society is a non-profit organization, and that the group had previously not been charged by the Fair Board for using one of the buildings at the fairgrounds for these clinics. A few years ago, she said the fair board began charging $100 per clinic, which is a discounted rate, as they typically charge $250 to rent the building in question. Yates said there are usually two of these clinics held per month between April and November. Recently, she said the Humane Society has added a $3 fee to those making use of the clinics to help cover the cost of renting the facility.
A few weeks ago, Brumfield stated she was informed by Fair Board member Brent Jenkins that the Humane Society will no longer be allowed to use the building. She said the Fair Board offered the use of what she referred to as a garage at the fairgrounds instead.
Brumfield said this building is not heated and "reeks of fumes" from the vehicles stored there. The two women explained this would not be a viable option, especially during the colder months, when animals would be going through surgical procedures.
As for a reason why this is taking place, Brumfield said she was told by Jenkins that there has been an issue of cat and dog hair being left behind, as well as an odor. Both she and Yates refute that statement, and said they actually leave the building in better condition than it is in when they arrive.
"They've never complained over all the years we've used the building," Yates said.
Yates further stated that she believes the real issue is about the Fair Board being able to make more money by renting the facility out to others at the $250 rate.
Without a building, Yates and Brumfield explained they would no longer be able to have these clinics.
"It would make a big impact on the community, especially the dog pound, if we can't offer this service," Yates said.
The two women explained that the cost of spay/neuter services at these clinics is about one-half to one-third of the cost of the same services at a local veterinary office. Further, they said the Humane Society utilizes grant funds for those pet owners with low incomes or who are disabled, which lowers the price to $18 per pet.
"If we have to stop this, I think it's really going to hurt this area," Yates opined.
In a similar situation, Yates told the commissioners that the local TLC Cat Rescue group, which has been holding Rascal Unit Clinics at the Jackson Area YMCA, has been informed that it can no longer use that facility either.
As the next scheduled Rascal Unit Clinic is set for Friday, Sept. 15, Yates and Brumfield said they will be forced to use the alternative building at the fairgrounds, which they said should not be an issue as the weather is still fair this time of year. In the meantime, Commissioner Ed Armstrong told the women he would reach out to Fair Board president Mike Farley to see what the Fair Board's reasoning is in making such a decision.
Brumfield told the commissioners that these clinics are a service to not only the animals in the county, but the community as a whole. As an example of this, she compiled a list of figures, highlighting both the number of animals spayed/neutered over the past three years, as well as the number of unwanted animal births that were thusly prevented. According to her figures, Brumfield said a total of 1,380 animals have been spayed/neutered, which she estimates prevented roughly 13,800 unwanted animal births. She explained that she used the number of 10 per animal served, to figure a rough guess as to how many animals could have been born if they had not been spayed/neutered.
Without these clinics, Brumfield opined that numerous individuals would not get their pets spayed/neutered because they wouldn't be able to afford doing so.
A total of four clinics remain for 2017 - one on Friday, Sept. 15, two in the month of October, and one in November. More information as to where the clinics will be held, if at all, beyond the one set for Sept. 15, will be reported as it becomes available.