City to Assess Pet Stray Hold and Fees

Ordinance Control vehicle at pet shelter
OC van at MAPS

OnFocus – The City of Marshfield will be voting soon on issues related to the stray pet hold and pet fees.

In 2016, the City of Marshfield voted to maintain the current stray hold of 7 days to help provide owners a longer period of time to reclaim their animals. Wisconsin law requires a minimum stray hold of 4 days for strays that end up at shelters. Stray animals found in City limits are taken to Marshfield Area Pet Shelter (MAPS).

In May, the City will be discussing changing the stray hold to 4 days to better serve the animals in MAPS’ care.

“I feel that now is the time to reduce the number of days from 7 to 4,” said Animal Control and Humane Officer Bob Larsen. “My opinion of this matter is strictly for that of the welfare of the animal. There is extensive research available regarding length of stay at shelters.”

Larsen referenced a 2015 UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine Shelter Medicine study regarding LOS (length of stay) issues.

cats at maps
Cats at MAPS

The study stated: Length of stay (LOS) is increasingly recognized as a critical factor in shelter management, with implications for animal health, well-being, sheltering costs, and ultimately a shelter’s capacity to save lives. Multiple studies have identified LOS as the most significant risk factor for illness in U.S. shelter dogs and cats.[1-4] With illness comes the need for treatment, reduced welfare and a yet more prolonged stay. The longer an animal is confined, the greater the demand for sufficient space, interaction and environmental enrichment to prevent confinement-related stress and behavioral disorders. However, longer stays also mean more crowded shelters, reducing the availability of space and care for each animal. Ultimately, the longer the stay per animal, the higher the costs as well.

“It should also be noted that, cats that are brought to the shelter, which are actually pets, spend an average of 1.4 days before a family is reunited with them,” said Larsen. “As it relates to dogs, that number decreases to .6 days. Those are impressive numbers and with the above information provided by UW-Madison, correlates to the need to reduce the stray hold time from 7 to 4 days.”

Larsen also supported MAPS’ request to increase fees related to housing stray cats and dogs.

“A lot of the care MAPS is providing, especially for cats upon entry to the shelter, would cost the City more than the $52 for the same care if taken to a vet,” he explained, emphasizing the importance of microchipping as a facilitator for improved reunion rates.

“We are lucky to have this service available to us. The cost alone to go to a vet is piercing to our budget,” he added, noting the paid staff time it takes to bring an animal in for vet care and the costs involved if there is a bite or scratch for which they must seek medical attention.

“The reason for the increase is because of the amount of work and medical that goes into the animals to keep them comfortable and safe to other animals in our care,” explained MAPS Executive Director Karen Rau. “The cat fees have not increased since we took over the contract in 2015, and dogs in 2017. With the shortening of the stray hold from 7 days to 4 (which we are also pursuing) we felt this was a good time to re-evaluate our fees.”

After entering the shelter environment, cats are treated with a FVRCP vaccine (for feline distemper), a Praziquantel injection (for tapeworm), and Revolution (topical medication for intestinal parasites, fleas, ear mites).

They are also examined, checking eyes, ears, mouth, skin, etc. A woods lamp is used to check for ringworm infection and if found, treatment is started right away with oral anti-fungal medication as well as lyme sulfur dips twice weekly for the duration of the treatment.

Any illness or injury that is not treatable by veterinary technician staff is brought to the attention of Ordinance officers, at which point it is determined by their office if they will provide further veterinary care at their cost.

Within 2-3 days, if there is no communication from an owner, dogs are treated with Canine distemper vaccine, Bordetella vaccine, Heart-worm test, and heart-worm/flea/tick medication, , and Immediate grooming needs if necessary for the comfort of dog – all done for the safety of the dogs and the other animals in MAPS care.

  • Current fees are: $7.00/day up to 7 days ($49 max) for cats and $13.00/day for up to 7 days ($91 max) for dogs.
  • Proposed fees are: $13.00/day up to 4 days ($52 max) for cats and $23.00/day for up to 4 days ($92 max) for dogs.

Though the per day fee would increase, the total cost per stay with the reduced stray hold amount would be just a few dollars more per animal.

“We based our increase on the amount of staff time and medical care our CVT staff members put into the animals. The cats in particular receive a lot of medical care within 24-48 hrs of being at our facility,” said Rau. “We also compared our fees to the going rates at boarding facilities in our area which range between $25-$35/day for dogs. Additionally, every animal that is returned to their owner receives a free microchip, a $7.95 cost to us.”

In addition to the medical care costs, the microchip and staff time to actually care for the animal, there is a three step cleaning and sanitizing process for each kennel/cage after the animal leaves, plus dishes and laundry.

“Everything gets taken out and extensively cleaned/sanitized between animals. If an animal is returned to their owner (which the ultimate goal is with strays), the owner pays these fees back to the city when they reclaim their pet,” said Rau.

The subject is expected to be discussed at the Finance, Budget, and Personnel Committee meeting on May 18, 2021.

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News Desk
Author: News Desk

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