Nov. 3 ballot request would fund agency for five years

LAPEER COUNTY — A proposal to approve a 0.20-mill levy to fund Lapeer County Animal Control for five years will appear on the Tues., Nov. 3 election ballot.

Two-tenths of a mill is the equivalent of 20 cents for each $1,000 of taxable property value.

Lapeer County Animal Control Director Dave Eady recently posed with a kitten housed and cared for at the animal shelter.

Money raised from the proposed 5-year (2020-2024) millage would be used (1) to provide operational funds related to the health and safety of the public through control of various animals within Lapeer County; (2) for the care of animals housed at the Lapeer County Animal Control; and (3) pay for various capital and program needs.

If approved in November, the millage would raise $635,749 during the first year of the levy.

In accordance with Michigan law, a portion of the total millage revenues from the tax levy may be captured by various tax increment finance districts within Lapeer County.

Lapeer County Animal Control oversees dog licensing, cares for stray and surrendered animals, offers adoption services and provides dog walking services and socializing with cats.

Dave Eady, who has served as Lapeer County Animal Control Director since 2018, considers it imperative that the millage passes.

Eady said the department’s current budget of $374,000 is insufficient to provide care and welfare for the hundreds of animals that come to the shelter, many which are sick and malnourished.
“It costs a lot to house, nourish and take care of the medical needs of the animals,” said Eady. “As things are, we rely on license sales, donations, volunteers and generosity to operate.”

Based on last year’s numbers, the agency housed 329 dogs and 256 cats for various periods of time; the vast majority of which were returned to their owners or found new homes.

“We only had five dogs and two cats that had to be euthanized,” Eady said. “All of the other animals were either adopted or returned to their owners.”

While the department can take pride in its very low (.0119 percent) euthanasia rate, there remains the considerable cost of keeping the shelter’s animals healthy and alive.

Which is why Eady believes passage of the millage is essential to the Animal Control department’s future.

“We just don’t have the funds that we need,” Eady said. “We get very little from the (Lapeer) county, and they’re really not in the position to help us right now.”

In the absence of other funding options, Eady hopes county residents will realize the need and vote for the millage on Nov. 3.

“It’s been a never-ending challenge,” said Eady. “It has become more and more difficult to meet our needs with current funds.

“We wish we didn’t have to ask for (millage) money,” he said, “but we need money to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Eady said feeding, housing and providing medical care for hundreds of animals is not the only responsibility of Animal Control staff.

He pointed out that Lapeer County Animal Control staff responds to more than 2,500 animal-related complaints annually, while covering 660 square miles of Lapeer County.

Eady said the agency currently averages 3-4 employees, while offering field services four days a week.

Additionally, the department’s animal shelter is open five days a week.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, shelter visitors are being asked to call in advance and make appointments to visit the facility.

Lapeer County Animal Control is located at 2396 W. Genesee St. in Lapeer. Call 810-667-0236 for current rates on adoptions, impoundments and licenses.

In the event of an after-hours emergency, call 810-667-0292 or 888-239-6714.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.