To the Editor:
It’s that time of year again! Budget time when the Oneida County Humane Society (OCHS) asks for dollars from the City of Rhinelander and Oneida County in exchange for animal control services. Our annual operating budget is in excess of $230,000. The amounts we ask of the city and county come from a calculation based on the population of Oneida County. The City of Rhinelander is our heaviest user with over 50% of strays coming from within the City limits. Historically the city has given approximately $46,000 a year in support since 2012, when the city asked OCHS to take over the management of the former city animal shelter. This is drastically less than the annual cost they incurred prior to 2012 — and we can confidently say the facility is run better now than ever! Oneida County also contributes annually for animal control outside the City of Rhinelander at approximately $41,000. Since 2012 the relationship with the city and county has been nothing less than great; we are very grateful for the money we have received, allowing us to continually do the job of animal control. We are available 24 hours a day to aid law enforcement in all situations involving animals. Now there is a new administration at city hall and we have been given no assurance the support will continue and without it our future is not clear.
At budget meetings we discuss contracts and agreements, phrases like “this isn’t a mandated service” and “it is optional for us to pay you anything” are uttered. You may think we can negotiate these agreements — not so; we have no bargaining chip. The mission, the priority and the very existence of OCHS is for the animals. If we are awarded a lesser or no amount at all, do we change what we do? Do we reduce or cut services? To do so would surely hurt the animals and the people who rely on us being there to help.
For the 800-900 animals that pass through our doors each year, we have been there for you — we take you in when you are neglected and abused; when your owner dies, gets arrested or goes into a nursing home; when your family is in a car accident or has a house fire. We are there when you don’t like the new baby or the new pet or new spouse. We are there when you simply have lost your way for no fault of your own. We always want to be your voice and to be there for you.
Thanks to all of you in the community who support us and our mission, you truly are the best! We intend to continue providing you and the pets of Oneida County with the best Humane Society for as long as we can. We need your help now more than ever. Please call, email, and write your alderperson, mayor, or county supervisor and tell them to continue supporting the Oneida County Humane Society.
Oneida County Humane Society Board of Directors