Last Updated on September 3, 2023 by Cass County Communication Network
The following press release was issued by the Cass County Humane Society (doing business as PETS R US) on August 14, 2023:
The Cass County Humane Society, now doing business as PETS R US, is Cass County, Indiana’s only nonprofit animal shelter. Established in 1948, PETS R US is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors independent from (and unaffiliated with) the local City and County governments. For 75 years, Pets R Us has provided animal shelter services to the local City and County governments as well as to the citizenry of Cass County and of the City of Logansport. Those services consist primarily of the humane housing, care, reunification, and/or adoption of lost, stray, and surrendered cats and dogs.
While Pets R Us is a charitable nonprofit organization, it cannot sustainably provide these services for free. There is no getting around the fact that it takes a significant amount of financial support to run an animal shelter. Unfortunately, while our local governments have enjoyed the benefits of our animal shelter service over the years, they have never carried a fair share of the financial burden their enjoyment imposes. Historically, the City of Logansport has never paid Pets R Us for animal shelter services. For the last fifteen (15) years, the county has paid for the services in the form of an annual lump sum; however, unfortunately, the County’s recent annual payments have covered no more than 25% of Pets R Us’s annual operating budget. In the same period, it has cost Pets R Us far more to provide its services to these entities than Pets R Us has received from them. Without any increase in the economic support from our local governments, Pets R Us unfortunately projects that its resources will become completely depleted (and it will have no choice but to cease operations) within less than five (5) years.
As we’ve sought alternative sources of support to allay the above-stated concerns, we’ve learned that many in the public believe that we, at Pets R Us, bear responsibility for the recovery of lost, abandoned, and stray animals in the City and County. We do not. Instead, the City and County, working in partnership, employ a single Animal Control Officer whose position is funded and directly supervised by the Logansport Police Department. Specifically, the lone Animal Control Officer reports specifically to the Assistant Chief of Police. Pets R Us has no oversight or authority over Animal Control; this officer does not and never has worked for the Shelter. For its contribution to this arrangement, the County pays for the Animal Control Officer’s continuing education, supplies, equipment, vehicle, gasoline, phone, and uniforms. The Animal Control Officer works only Monday through Friday from 8-4pm and is reached by phoning dispatch (not by calling the Shelter, as we’ve learned that many in the public believe). The Animal Control Officer does not work evenings or weekends unless called by arresting officers with animal issues. We have offered to assume oversight of the Animal Control Officer in the past, in the hopes that this would result in a more streamlined process for animal intake at the shelter, but those offers have been refused by the local governments.
Nevertheless, Animal Control (on behalf of the City and County) has, for years, relied heavily on Pets R Us as a repository to accept all animals the Animal Control Officer recovers. This creates near constant pressure on Pets R Us resources, including (but not limited to) its facility’s capacity. The Pets R Us Shelter currently houses 31 dogs and 68 cats. For reference, the Shelter’s target maximum capacity is 25 dogs and 38 cats. Over-population forces us to get creative and identify animals suitable for sharing crates. This, in turn, presents cleanliness problems and increases risks of pathogens spreading amongst our animals, consequently increasing the time and effort required of our staff to try and mitigate those problems.
Notwithstanding these numbers, the shelter always strives to maintain two open kennels for the Animal Control Officer to deposit dogs after hours, in addition to an open cat cage. It has also historically afforded the Animal Control Officer after-hours access to Pets R Us’s private facility to accomplish that end. It has always been (and remains) our objective to take as many animals in need of our services as we possibly can.
We here at the shelter have done our absolute best to provide good service, not only to Animal Control, but to the public in general. We all want to provide a safe and healthy environment to every animal in need to the fullest extent of our capabilities. However, when our facility is overpopulated and FULL, we cannot lodge an animal safely. Because of this dilemma, Pets R Us has undertaken significant efforts to improve its facility. The shelter received a much-needed grant from the Cass County Community Foundation in 2022 that allowed a new entry and reception area, a new air filtration unit, new flooring, and much more to better serve our public. The north wall of dog kennels has been completely redone and we are now working on the outside fencing and south kennels. Our Board of Directors was able to do all this from grants, fundraisers and public donations of all sizes.
Despite these efforts and the support Pets R Us has received from the public, the strain created by the sheer number and character of animals that the City and County has historically sought to deposit at the shelter has been significant. Over the past year, Pets R Us has initiated multiple communications with the City and County regarding a need to clarify the parameters of the relationship and renegotiate the City’s and County’s financial outlay for Pets R Us’s services. In November of 2022 and in response to this request, our Board of Directors was instructed by elected officials of the City and the County to terminate critical staff and dismiss certain members of our Board who advocated for reworking our relationship with our local governments. The City and County also demanded that we provide a draft written contract which would define Pets R Us’s responsibilities to accept City and County animals and set forth the basis by which Pets R Us would be compensated for its service.
As an independent 501(c)(3) public charity, we decided that we were under no obligation to make changes to our staff or Board composition, notwithstanding the requests from local governments. However, we did draft a contract for ongoing services, as specifically requested. Our draft received no formal reply from either County or City representatives, despite multiple requests for comment and follow-up. Nor did we ever receive a proposed draft from either City or County reflecting their position and view as to the relationship.
Not long after we provided the requested draft contract, we were informed we have recently received information that both the City of Logansport and Cass County were considering a contract with an out-of-county, for-profit organization that we understand has never previously operated as an animal shelter. Since then, we’ve learned that the County has, in fact, enter into an agreement with a third-party (although the identity has not been confirmed to us). It is our understanding that the County’s current plan is to engage this out-of-county business to accept lost, stray, and abandoned pets recovered by Animal Control in Cass County. Suffice it to say that we do not believe shipping animals (many of which are simply lost pets of City and County citizenry) out-of-county to do business with a for-profit venture instead of working toward a sustainable relationship with our charitable organization is in the best interests of the County’s animals or citizens. Rather than engage in meaningful discourse toward a mutually beneficial arrangement, the County has instructed Pets R Us to simply bid for an animal shelter services contract at the end of the year.
By contrast, representatives from the City have been more engaged and willing participants in discussions of a reworked relationship with Pets R Us. However, progress has been slow and there remains considerable uncertainty around the relationship. For the entirety of 2023, we’ve operated without any clearly defined agreement or financial support model.
We at Pets R Us have been frustrated and deeply disappointed by the difficulty that our pursuit of a sustainable relationship has created. We further believe that some of the actions by our local governments (particularly the County) entail a punitive response to: (1) Pets R Us’s assertion of its status as an independent organization whose operations and personnel neither City nor County have authority to govern; and (2) Pets R Us’s good faith insistence that it be fairly compensated for the service it provides so that it can continue to provide the service for years to come. In any case, and regardless of the reasoning underlying the actions of our local government, it is clear to Pets R Us that it cannot rely upon receiving any support from local governments for the immediately foreseeable future.
While these recent developments are, without question, harmful to Pets R Us’s mission and the good of the animals of Logansport and Cass County, Pets R Us will continue to put its best foot forward in service of both the animals and the public. However, without the support of our local governments, Pets R Us is left even more dependent on donations from the public to continue to serve our community. The Board greatly appreciates the support it has already received from the public and hopes that it will continue.
Related post: Cass County Animal Control Information