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Changes in the works for animal shelter

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: KATIE WILSON - Chewy, a mixed breed dog, sits patiently in a dog run at the Columbia Humane Society. The Columbia County Sheriffs Office currently maintains an animal control presence at the shelter, but is in the middle of planning a transfer that would give the shelter full care of the building and the animals inside.Big changes are coming to the Columbia Humane Society.

Currently, the shelter shares space with the Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Unit. Pending a new business plan, the shelter will take over full responsibility of the space and the animals. Animal Control will return to the Sheriff’s Office to focus primarily on dog control. Larger, better resorced organizations will manage general animal control issues.

Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson and shelter director Dean Cox hope the transfer will make both shelter and animal control policies and procedures more efficient.

The shelter was very interested in taking over the animal housing duties of the Animal Control Office, Cox said.

Efforts to streamline Animal Control and Humane Society functions have been in the works for a while now.

One big step took effect earlier this year with the transfer of all dog licensing duties to the County Clerk’s office.

Animal Control Officer Roger Kadell is basically a one-man show these days as a shrinking Sheriff’s Office budget has chipped away at his Animal Control staff.

“Like everything else, that budget has begun to shrink,” Dickerson said.

To keep on cutting at the department, would require Kadell to spend more time at the office and less time in the field following up on neglect and abuse complaints, Dickerson said. “Leaving him there the whole time is not a good use of his training and skills.”

The county is mandated to perform dog control, but it is not required to provide animal control, Dickerson said. He has already discussed this with the Oregon Humane Society, which provides resources to cash-strapped agencies when it comes to investigating animal neglect or abuse cases.

“When we get the calls of the underfed horses or exotic birds, we will refer those to someone else at OHS,” Dickerson said, adding that they may still handle the occasional animal control issue but the emphasis has to be on dogs.

“If (Kadell) has dog cases to work, he has to work those cases,” Dickerson said.

Now the county and the Humane Society are busy working out the legal details of the transfer — issues such as how much money the city of St. Helens will still contribute to the shelter program (Dickerson estimates they provide approximately $600 a month to the shelter through the Sheriff’s Animal Control unit), as well as how euthanasia procedures will be handled.

The Columbia Humane Society is a no-kill shelter, but Animal Control has had to euthanize animals it has brought in before.

“That’s still our responsibility,” Dickerson said. “The Humane Society won’t be doing that.”

The Columbia Humane Society’s 2013 Benefit Dinner and Auction is April 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the St. Helens Elks Lodge.

The dinner will be a buffet with both meat and vegetarian options. There will also be a no-host bar.

The live and silent auctions will feature travel packages, entertainment and event tickets, dining out, specialty pet products and more.

Call 503-397-4353 for for details.