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County officials discuss Akron pet issues

3/29/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee discussed issues with the dog and cat population in the county as it considered a contract for veterinarian services March 26.

The committee recommended Council adopt a resolution allowing a contract with Wadsworth Veterinary Clinic for services from April 6 through Jan. 31 in an amount not to exceed $50,200. Usually the contract is with one vet affiliated with the clinic, but because she is going to be on maternity leave for part of the contract, the county will contract with the clinic so another vet can fill in, according to Craig Stanley, director of Administrative Services.

During the discussion, Councilman Frank Comunale (D-District 4) asked Stanley if the county is seeing any results from its spay and neuter program in the form of a reduced number of stray cats and dogs.

Stanley said Animal Control has been operating on the dogs and cats it adopts out for about six years, and most research shows a dent isn’t made in the animal population for a decade after intensive programs begin.

But he added that his main concerns are with trying to reach Akron residents who don’t make an effort to have their dogs or cats fixed because of the cost.

“Our target audience is being missed: the residents of the inner city,” he said. “These are the ones we need to get their pets spayed and neutered.”

He added that there have been grant programs offered at times that help pay for surgery, but often the pet owners who participate are ones that could probably afford it.

Stanley also said that dogs are not much of an issue right now.

“It’s cats,” he said.

Councilwoman Tamela Lee (D-District 5) asked why there aren’t more opportunities for low-cost spay and neuter clinics for dogs, as there are for cats. Stanley said dogs are more expensive because of their size, and noted he has not found a mobile dog surgery organization such as the one the county has partnered with.

He said the county often refers people to the One of a Kind Pets clinic in West Akron.

Lee also said she found it difficult to find information about spay and neuter programs on the county’s Animal Control website. Stanley said there should be a link and added he would look into that.

Stanley said currently the county only spays and neuters dogs that are being adopted from the pound. In the future, there is the possibility that the county could offer spay and neuter services at its newer facility on Opportunity Parkway.

In other business, the Personnel and Intergovernmental Committee revisited a resolution that would remove some lower-level positions from the county’s hiring freeze.

The committee recommended Council adopt the resolution, which was amended so that it would affect positions that were only vacated after the resolution’s adoption or in the three months prior to its adoption.

Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said that was added because of concerns that some departments could try to hire several of one position even though they had been vacant for a while.

Also Monday, the committee recommended Council adopt a resolution that would allow the Internal Audit Committee to hire a full-time deputy director and a full-time internal auditor to replace two staff members that recently resigned.

Lee asked director Lisa Skapura why the two staff members left, and she explained they took better paying positions within the county.

Lee noted this has happened in other county departments.

“If there’s something going on with professional salaries, I would like this board to examine it,” she said.

Summit County Council will meet April 2 at 5 p.m. for caucus and 5:05 p.m. for the regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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