Hamilton continues tackling stray problem

Hoof or Paw is a non-profit organization devoted to helping animals in the area.

HAMILTON — The City of Hamilton is making major considerations in increasing their support of the efforts being made to clean the streets of stray animals.
During a regular meeting held at city hall on Monday, Oct. 2, the city was scheduled to vote on paying Charlotte Williams with the Humane Society and Calen Weston with Hoof or Paw a sum of $1,200 per month, split equally between the two parties.
Before the vote was taken however, Mayor Bob Page allowed Weston to address the council, with the thought of tabling the vote for further consideration.
Weston, who has served Marion County and the City of Hamilton with her Hoof or Paw animal service, stated money and enforcement of animal ordinances have been major problems in keeping the city’s stray problem under control
“There are more issues than just needing more money. The city needs more help,” said Weston.
Weston suggested increasing the amount given to them in order to upgrade on what has been built at their facility in Marion County.
“We could use (the funds) to help better make ourselves available to the city and the services that they need that we have had requested by the public,” said Weston.
“We have turned down probably about 50 percent of our intakes from the city limits because we don’t have space or money. If we are only getting $1,000 a month and we have $1,200 in expenses. You could see how that declines. These are things that are needed for this area, not just for the dogs; it makes for a cleaner community. There is a huge correlation between violent crimes and pet ownership.”
Aside from funds, Weston spoke about issues in enforcing ordinances, with residents allowing animals to roam throughout Hamilton and Marion County.
“We don’t want to make a crucial error here. We want to get our dogs and cats under control somewhat,” said Page.
Weston stated, while she and her volunteers are able to help with some animal control instances, she is unable to handle some of the more violent animals that have threatened the city.
“We don’t have the expertise or the training to handle aggressive dogs. All that stuff will still have to be handled by animal control,” said Weston.
Weston stated that, along with concerns about finances, they have had to be careful not to interfere with the work of the Marion County Humane Society as well.
“I feel like if we do something with the ordinances, in addition to allowing us to make some additional facilities and making the resources available to the city officers that are usually coming into contact with (animals) before we do, it just helps everyone on all fronts,” said Weston.
Hamilton Police Chief Jordan Carter expressed that he welcomes further discussion concerning animal control improvements.
“I think we’re making good progress and steps in the right direction. I think everybody’s input has definitely pushed us into the right direction for some kind of compliance officer, dog catcher and animal control ordinance enforcer,” said Carter.
“The mayor can’t make the decision. I can’t make the decision. It takes a collaborative effort from all of us to go in the right direction and move forward.”
Page commended Weston for her work and assured her that, although the decision would be tabled for consideration, the city will seriously consider next steps.
“You are in the trenches doing the work, and we’re somewhat giving you funds—not enough to sustain you,” said Page.
“I think we’re all falling short in getting to the goal. So, let us consider this proposal, and, next meeting, maybe we can make a better decision moving forward.”
Weston emphasized the importance of getting stray animals off of the streets, as they can quickly become a more violent and dangerous problem.
“We get so many dogs that roam together as a pack, and it creates that pack mentality. They may not have been vicious two months ago, but let them all get together and one of them (become vicious), they will all join in,” said Weston.

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