When they met Wednesday, Leavenworth County commissioners approved a payment of $11,000 to the Leavenworth County Humane Society.

When they met Wednesday, Leavenworth County commissioners approved a payment of $11,000 to the Leavenworth County Humane Society.

Commissioners also approved additional funding for the First Judicial District CASA Association.

Crystal Swann Blackdeer, executive director of the Leavenworth County Humane Society, requested funding from the County Commission to help cover the cost of caring for animals that come from unincorporated areas of the county.

Blackdeer said residents will pick up animals they find in the county and bring them to the Humane Society, which is located in Lansing. She said owners of pets also sometimes relinquish them to the Humane Society.

Blackdeer requested $12,000 from the County Commission for 2019. But commissioners agreed to provide $11,000 in funding to the organization.

Blackdeer also has requested the county pay the Humane Society $15,000 in 2020.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said the county would use funds that were set aside for unbudgeted requests from outside agencies to meet the request from the Humane Society.

But he noted that animal control services in the county are budgeted through the Sheriff’s Office.

He said the request for funding for the Humane Society may be better targeted through the Sheriff’s Office as part of a regular budgeting cycle.

Commission Chairman Doug Smith said he thought commissioners had approved a portion of the Sheriff’s Office budget to be used for animal control services.

Sheriff Andy Dedeke said his office employs a part-time, on-call animal control officer. He said the focus for the officer are cases involving crimes against animals and animal bites.

He said the focus is not necessarily stray animals because the county does not have a resolution that prohibits dogs from running at large.

Dedeke said his office partners with the Humane Society and the Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society to take care of animals that are picked up by the animal control officer.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson said people generally do not dump dogs in the city. He questioned how many dogs abandoned in rural areas of the county actually come from cities.

Culbertson questioned whether the county should be responsible for 100% of costs associated with animals picked up in the county.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

Culbertson said dogs owned by rural residents run around their neighborhoods. Culbertson said his own dog has been picked up twice because it was on a roadway.

Culbertson said he believes some people believe dogs that are allowed to roam in the county are lost or have been dumped.

Commissioner Chad Schimke suggested there may be some dogs that get picked up in the city even though they came from unincorporated areas of the county.

Loughry said the cost to the Humane Society comes from caring for animals that are unclaimed.

Blackdeer said pet owners who pick up their animals from the Humane Society are asked to pay veterinarian bills. She said they are not always asked to pay boarding fees, especially if the animals are housed by the Humane Society for only a short time.

In a written funding request, Blackdeer stated the veterinary care for each animal costs an average of about $200.

Schimke suggested the Humane Society could increase fees charged to the people who claim their pets to offset costs associated with the animals that are not claimed.

Culbertson questioned how people determine whether a dog that is picked up in the county was dumped or just roaming through a neighborhood.

Blackdeer said officials with the Humane Society always assume first that the animal was lost and its owner is looking for it.

“We can’t assume they’re dumped,” she said.

Culbertson asked if the owner of a dog would be charged a fee from the Humane Society if the animal was picked up while it was roaming in the county.

Blackdeer said there would be a fee for the veterinarian bill.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said she was appalled that animals that live in unincorporated areas of the county are not required to be vaccinated for rabies.

Commissioner Mike Stieben asked if commissioners have the power to require that animals be vaccinated for rabies.

Senior County Counselor David Van Parys said the commission has broad powers related to public health and safety. Van Parys said he believes commissioners could impose such a requirement.

Schimke asked if the Humane Society was asking for money for unpaid invoices or for money that will be needed in the future.

Blackdeer said the Humane Society did not have $12,000 in unpaid expenses. She said the amount was probably closer to $11,000.

Loughry said the request of $15,000 for 2020 would need to be paid from next year’s budget. He said county expenses for next year cannot be paid out of the 2019 budget.

Commissioners approved the payment of $11,000 to the Humane Society.

Schimke suggested commissioners can work on developing a funding model for the future that would include a partnership with local cities.

Smith said he can envision an argument against a shared funding model because residents of the local cities are already paying taxes to the county.

Commissioners also voted to pay $12,000 to CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

The local CASA organization operates a program to assist children who are the subjects of child in need of care cases in the court system. The organization also operates a child exchange and visitation center and a child advocacy center.

The County Commission generally provides funding to the organization each year.

Kelly Meyer, executive director for the First Judicial District CASA Association, said she was making the request for the additional $12,000 after learning the organization will not be receiving an amount of funding from another source as previously anticipated.

She said the CASA organization has been receiving funding from this other source for more than 10 years. She said the change in funding “is affecting two years of our budget.”

She said the $12,000 that was being requested from the county “makes a huge difference in our budget.”

“We’re not panicking right now,” she said.

She said the local CASA organization is not in danger of closing. But she said the organization could be in jeopardy of having to cut back its services if the shortfall cannot be addressed.

“We want to be able to maintain services,” she said.

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