MANSFIELD -- Richland County may soon spay or neuter all dogs at its shelter, increasing the costs to residents who choose to adopt animals.
County commissioners discussed the possibility Tuesday with new Dog Warden Dane Howard and office staff member Chelsey Burns.
The county currently charges $138 for a dog adoption, which includes an adoption fee, license and registration, micro-chipping and all vaccinations. Each person who adopts now gets a certificate worth $20 toward having the animal spayed or neutered.
It wasn't immediately known how much the mandatory spay/neuter program would increase the adoption cost, though commissioners speculated it would push the total fee to around $200.
Commissioner Marilyn John said obtaining a dog through the county would still be far cheaper than purchasing one through a private breeder.
"You're not going to able to get one anywhere for that (price)," John said.
Howard and Burns said they would research options to have the work done, including the RASCAL Unit Neutermobile through the non-profit Mid-Ohio Animal Welfare League.
According to the organization's online listings, prices for spaying/neutering of dogs varies by weight -- $57 for animals under 20 pounds up to $132 for dogs weighing more than 150.
Howard, hired a few weeks ago to replace former Dog Warden Dave Jordan after he was terminated by commissioners, said he could return to commissioners within a month with a proposal. The former Huron County sheriff labeled the spaying/neutering of pets a moral obligation.
"I am hoping to get your support on this. It's a smart play," Howard said.
Howard said allowing dogs to be adopted that are not spayed/neutered results in more litters of pups and more strays for the shelter, an assertion with which Commissioner Tony Vero quickly agreed.
"You may not see results short term, but you will see the results long term, without question," Vero said. "(And) this will be a lot cheaper than actually going to a vet and having it done (after an adoption). I think it's a fantastic idea."
Vero said residents may actually prefer having all the work done prior to adoption, rather than securing a dog and then having to arrange a visit with a veterinarian to have it spayed/neutered.
John recommended anyone thinking about adopting a dog to visit the shelter's Facebook page.
The new spaying/neutering policy was just one thing discussed with Howard during a 30-minute session. Among others:
-- Howard said he is pleased with shelter employees. "They are all remarkably hard workers. They really are solid folks," he said.
-- The new warden said he found the shelter to be in need of downspouts on the outside of the building, the lack of which is washing away soil near the foundation and causing potential damage. He will look at options before his budget review with commissioners in a few months.
-- Howard said his biggest concern is manpower with just one full-time deputy warden. He suggested a part-time warden and also discussed the possibility of a reserve dog warden. "I am open to any idea that can get us more help," he said.
-- Potential fund-raisers were discussed, including one involving the public in the destruction of the no-kill facility's gas chamber, which has not been used in years. Howard said he is committed to keeping the shelter a no-kill facility.