GREENVILLE, Pitt County - The costs associated with taking in stray and owner-surrendered animals increases every year for local shelters.
Pitt County is looking to offset the costs by charging more for every animal it takes in from cities and towns. For municipalities that use Pitt County Animal Shelter,, owner surrender fees have doubled since last year. But county officials say this is a bargain compared to what it really costs them to take care of each animal.
We did the math with Pitt County Animal Shelter taking in close to 2,900 owner-surrendered animals last year. It cost the county about $263,000 to care for the animals. However, the county only brought in about $41,000 in "intake fees." County leaders are hoping the new plan will help them better offset those costs. Currently, it costs an average of $90 for every animal Pitt County takes in. Residents pay $20 when they need to give up their pet.
"it is a county service and we felt like we did not want the citizens to incur those costs," said Duane Holder, Deputy County Manager and CFO.
Since citizens pay county taxes and municipalities don't, county commissioners came up with a plan to increase owner-surrender fees for only the municipalities. Until recently, towns like Ayden, Grifton and Winterville only had to pay the county $20 for each animal they brought to the shelter.
"The board said it would be too much for municipalities to go from $20 to $90.91 in one year, and so they said 'let's take a gradual approach to this'," Holder said.
Last year, the fees were doubled and this year, it doubled again to $80. Some town leaders said the fee increase is forcing them to make adjustments. In a statement, Ayden Police Chief Barry Stanley said his town had to stop taking in owner-surrender pets because of the cost.
"That's their choice. And again, some municipalities actually house their own animals, and they have that option," Holder said.
County leaders said in order to keep providing this optional service without putting the burden on taxpayers, raising the fees for each town is the best option for now.