MANSFIELD -- Richland County is officially a mandatory spay/neuter county when it comes to adopting dogs through the dog warden's office and shelter.
County commissioners voted Thursday to require all dogs adopted through the shelter be spayed or neutered, effective immediately.
The cost of the surgery will be included in the cost of the adoption, which will now be $199, a total that also includes the cost of micro-chipping the animal, all vaccinations and a one-year license for the dog.
The fee had been $138, so the price reflects a 44 percent increase.
Dog Warden Dane Howard, who began his new role this spring, presented the idea to commissioners on March 26.
"During my employment interviews with the county, it was clear to me commissioners felt very strongly this shelter needed to have a spay and neuter program," Howard said.
"We have been moving in this direction, but it has taken several months," the dog warden said. "We are incredibly excited. We think it's the right thing to do on behalf of our community and the pets.
"It will help to reduce the unwanted pet population. It will help with disease control and reduce some of the aggression we have seen with some of the dogs," Howard said. "We believe this is an appropriate response on behalf of the community."
The county is contracting with the RASCAL Unit Neutermobile through the non-profit Mid-Ohio Animal Welfare League.
The mobile surgical unit will be at the Richland County Shelter on Aug. 27. Anyone who adopts a dog between now and then will need to make an appointment to bring the animal in that day to have the surgery done.
"We hope to have at least 20 of our dogs spayed or neutered on that day," Howard said, adding an open house and other events may be schedule for Aug. 27.
Howard said he hopes the public will assist by donating protective cones the dogs will need to wear after the surgical procedure.
"I am very proud of this. My staff has worked extremely hard to make this happen and so has the board of commissioners," Howard said.
"The Richland County Humane Society has been instrumental in making this plan come to fruition. (Director) Missy Houghton has always answered the phone when I called and has been a guiding light in this process," Howard said.
Commissioner Tony Vero praised the dog warden's office efforts.
"This is a really big deal," he said. "Dane and his staff have done great work here."