Rapho reviews dog options
BY ROCHELLE A. SHENK, Correspondent
Rapho Township officials narrowed down their options for taking care of dogs found running loose as a result of discussions on Jan 17.
The township's current provider, Playful Pups Retreat, gave notice that it will not offer services after Feb. 28 because the newly formed Lancaster SPCA is now offering animal control services to municipalities.
Manheim Borough, which provides contracted police service to the township, is one of three other municipalities contracted with Playful Pups. Manheim Borough Police Chief Joe Stauffer said that he has been exploring options to handle stray dog and has contacted Critter Catcher Inc., Lititz, and the Lancaster SPCA.
He said that he is recommending that both Rapho and the borough contract with SPCA even though the fees will nearly triple. "I don't like going over budget, but in this case, we don't really have a choice," Stauffer said.
Rapho officials said they agreed with his recommendations, but postponed a decision until their Feb. 7 meeting to allow Manheim Borough council to take action during a Jan. 29 meeting.
"Contracting with the SPCA makes the most sense," supervisor Lowell Fry said.
Fees would be $300 per dog and would be based on the number of stray dogs in 2012. Rapho had 17 dogs, which would translate to a fee of $5,100 plus an initial start-up charge of $500. For this year, Rapho budgeted $1,750 for animal control.
In analyzing information about stray dogs taken to Playful Pups last year, Stauffer said that most of them were claimed by their owners within 24-hours. He suggested that in light of that fact, two kennels could be built to hold stray dogs for 24-hours, and after that time the SPCA, which has a pick-up service, would be notified to collect the dogs.
In addition to construction cost for the kennels and a $25 fee to operate a nonprofit kennel, this plan would require one officer per shift to monitor the dogs.
This plan would also provide some monetary relief to the two municipalities. They could continue to collect dog recovery fees from the owners when they claim their dogs, and if at the end of the year the number of dogs sent to the SPCA is less than the 2012 stray dog number, a refund will be issued.
Stauffer said that the SPCA also plans to offer a service for feral cats and will work with municipalities to help identify owners of "repeat offenders."
"Feral cats are an issue in the borough, and that would be a tremendous benefit," he said.
Susan Martin, director of the Lancaster SPCA, said during a phone interview on Jan. 18 that the organization is flexible with regard to timing of municipal contracts.
"We're here to serve a need that's been created and want to work with municipalities to help control stray dogs and cats," she said.
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