Dougherty County - Dougherty County leaders search for a way to control the pet population, without making owners pay a license fee.
For years, the Humane Society picked up stray animals in rural Dougherty County, at no cost to the county. But, the rising number of unwanted pets in need of care has driven the Humane Society to charge $40 for every animal brought to them.
Now county commissioners are considering paying the Humane Society to handle animal control, and that is expensive.
Leah Bird's home is quickly becoming a stray animal haven. She has 9 dogs, including one new puppy, two kittens, and even a pair of rats.
"Most of these dogs are abandoned near my home," said Bird. "They hear my dogs barking and find their way to my yard." In the past, she took the animals to the Humane Society, but now she can't afford the new drop off fee.
"It cost a lot just to feed the dogs and cats and nurse them if they're sick. I just can't pay $40 for every stray, especially since they're someone else's responsibility."
6,000 stray dogs and cats are put to sleep each year in Dougherty County. That number continues to rise, as does the cost to the Humane Society.
"We can't afford to pick up animals in the county for free anymore. We don't have any options but to charge for our service," said Donna Strickland for the Humane Society. The city of Albany has a $160,000 animal control contract with the Humane Society. But, county commissioners says they just don't have that kind of money in the budget.
"We had to tighten the budget, and we just don't have much money to allocate for animal control," said County Administrator Richard Crowdis. Until the County decides on an animal control solution, pet lovers like Leah Bird are left with few options. They must either pay for the pound or make room for one more furry friends.
County commissioners are considering using some of the revenue for the proposed property tax increase in the unincorporated parts of the county on animal control. But that would only generate a few thousand dollars.