Tough times crunch animal shelter’s budget, too

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Allen Park Animal Control Officer RuthAnn Kieltyka takes a moment to greet one of the shelter’s adoptable kittens.

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The city’s animal shelter, like its other units, is facing budget cuts.

Unlike those operations, however, the impact on the shelter can be measured in the number of lost dogs and cats returned to their owners, rescued from life as strays and sheltered until they can be placed with adoptive families through local adoption or other nonprofit animal rescue groups.

Animal Control Officer RuthAnn Kieltyka has taken the first practical steps to adapt to the recent decrease in revenue by changing shelter hours. As of Jan. 18, it now is closed to the public on Wednesdays and opens two hours later – at noon – on Tuesdays. Hours remain at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

In addition, one employee left voluntarily, enabling the shelter to achieve an immediate personnel reduction from four people working with the animals to three.

Police Chief Dean Tamsen said the cuts have resulted in a personnel savings of about $18,000 per year. Full-time ordinance officer Pete Simakas, who recently left his city job, had devoted time to the shelter as well.

Shelter officials charge a fee for strays and lost pets from Garden City, Lincoln Park and Melvindale; the fee is based on the number of animals delivered to the Allen Park shelter. Individual owners surrendering an animal are assessed a $55 fee to help cover the cost of the animal’s care, or, if warranted, the cost of euthanasia.

Shelter officials are hoping to help pet owners by offering low-cost pet microchipping, a procedure that allows animal rescue personnel nationwide to gain instant access to pet ownership data, addresses and contact information. Allen Park soon will offer the service for $35 per pet – a very reasonable price, officials say, compared to what is currently charged by some providers.

Kieltyka said if a homeowner discovers a stray on their property but doesn’t want to handle the animal, they can contact their local police department animal control to rescue it. Police then can transport the animal to Allen Park for further evaluation.

All strays without a collar or tags are held for at least four business days before being released for adoption, to see if an owner comes to claim them. An animal with a collar is held for seven days. If an owner identifies their pet, they are given 10 days to come in and claim it. A $15-per-day fee is charged to house a pet at the shelter.

Civic groups and individuals can best help the shelter through fundraising. It also can use pet food and animal toys.

Monetary donations are appreciated, officials say, because they help pay for the vaccines and parvo tests for rescued animals. Donations also help pay for leukemia tests for cats.

For more information contact the shelter at (313) 382-6173.