December 22, 2014

Elyria
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County dog kennel may need financial help from rescue group after all

ELYRIA – The Lorain County Dog Kennel has seen a drop in funding that could lead to an Avon-based dog rescue group making good on a promise to pay for half of the $100 cost the county pays to vaccinate and spay or neuter dogs adopted out from the kennel.

When the county commissioners agreed in May 2012 to the mandatory spay and neuter program, it came with assurances from FIDO’s Companion Rescue that the group would kick in cash to pay for the medical procedures in addition to transporting the animals to veterinary clinics in Avon and Lorain.

AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Jeremy Papasso

AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Jeremy Papasso

The group’s assistance was to last for roughly two years until a steady revenue stream to fund the spay and neuter program could be developed.

But Michelle Reichlin, the group’s director, and county Commissioner Lori Kokoski both said that they were told by the kennel’s medical director, Tom Wood, that the kennel had enough money to cover the procedures and there was no need for FIDO’s Companion to pay. Reichlin said Wood made that statement before the program launched last October.

“He told us it was not necessary for us to fund it and that is the only reason we did not fund it,” Reichlin said.

Kokoski said she believed the money would be better spent by the rescue group elsewhere and since the kennel didn’t need the funding, she told FIDO’s Companion not to worry about paying it.

“I didn’t think it was good to take their money if we didn’t need it,” Kokoski said.

Reichlin said her group spends roughly $10,000 per year transporting kennel dogs to 4 Pets Clinic in Avon and the Lorain Animal Clinic. FIDO’s Companion has spent additional money on advertising and providing car magnets and signs at the kennel to promote the kennel’s medical fund, she said.

But the financial times have changed for the pound.

According to figures provided by county Budget Director Lisa Hobart, the kennel’s main operating fund, which is largely funded through the sale of dog licenses, has seen its revenue drop from $488,379 in 2010 to $374,528 last year. Through June 30, the fund has brought in $312,189 this year.

Expenses went from $364,603 in 2010 to $449,276 last year, according to Hobart’s figures.

A separate medical fund has seen revenue fall from $19,267 in 2010 to $14,601 last year, although it had climbed to $20,409 in 2011.

Kokoski and Reichlin both said the drop in funding can be traced back to December 2012 when dog license renewal notices were mailed out without the price being included by the county auditor’s office. A second reminder notice that is typically sent out didn’t go out this year, they said, which further led to decreased renewal rates despite an amnesty program earlier this year.

Reichlin said she’s hopeful that a recent cost increase for dogs adopted from the kennel, which jumped from $15 to $50 at the beginning of September, will help counter the decline in revenue.

But she also said that if the county needs the money, FIDO’s Companion is ready to make good on its promise to cover half the cost of the medical visits.

“I have never waivered in my commitment,” she said.

Reichlin said she didn’t immediately have access to the number of dogs that have been spayed or neutered under the program, but Dave McClelland, president of 4 Pets Clinic, said his facility has performed the procedures on 223 dogs since the program began last year.

Hobart said 4 Pets has been paid $22,640 over the past year for that work.

The commissioners agreed Wednesday to consider expanding the number of veterinarians involved in the spay and neuter program.

In other kennel business, Kokoski said the commissioners approved hiring Tim Pihlblad as county dog warden to replace Jack Szlempa Sr., who resigned this summer.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.