Three officers - one from each village - will attend Wisconin Humane Officer Training in Madison next week to help municipalities fill the gap Countryside Humane Society will leave at the end of the year.
Contracts with CHS expire at the end of the year. Officials there told village leaders in Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant that and that the facility will instead focus on sheltering and adoption.
Since then, the City of Racine proposed building a $6 million facility into which each municipality would pay, but community officials saw projected costs skyrocket so they opted out of participating. The city's project was scrapped, and each municipality has been on their own to make plans for animal control past the end of the year.
The Wisconsin Humane Society is acquiring the assets of CHS and will run the services there as soon as the final details are finished.
That's where the humane officers come in. According to a story from The Journal Times, city officals have approved expenditures for two humane officers and their necessary equipment.
Village police departments are absorbing the need for a humane officer by sending one each from Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant. According to Mount Pleasant Police Chief Tim Zarzecki, the cost is $50 per officer for the class plus room and board in Madison for the four-day course run by the University of Missouri Law Enforcement Institute.
"It'll be good for us to have an officer with this kind of training," Zarzecki said. "We don't know exactly how it's all going to work out, but we have a duty to respond, and now we'll be able to do that with someone who's had the right training."
Sturtevant Police Chief Sean Marschke agreed.
"This kind of training is necessary because now we'll be handling both investigation and enforcement," he said. "I also hope that with one officer in each village, the departments can do some coordinating to make sure a humane officer is on duty at all times."
Costs Not Determined
The Racine City Council also approved a contract with the Wisconsin Humane Society for sheltering services starting Jan. 1. Ann Reed, executive director of WHS, said Friday that she hopes to use that contract's language in agreements with the villages as well.
"We want contracts with the municipalities to be uniform so there's no confusion and we work toward a smooth transition on Jan. 1," she said.
The new humane officers will only handle calls for companian animals, Caledonia Police Chief Toby Shey said. Wild animals like racoons are handled by the state Department of Natural Resources.
"We are training for how to handle calls for domestic animals," he confirmed.
Reed said she anticipates giving law enforcement officers access to the humane society when they do round up a loose animal. Without that procedure, departments would have to house the animal at the police station and worry about feeding, watering, and other general care.
Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant have kennels at their stations, but Caledonia does not so having access to the humane society facility would be key. However, Caledonia has been talking about getting kennels set up at their station.
Mount Pleasant Village President Carolyn Milkie said officials from all parties are working on hammering out details, including costs based on how many animals are actually counted from each village.
"It's hard to calculate how many animals actually come from Mount Pleasant because Countryside is in the village so animals dropped off were sometimes attributed to us when that wasn't really the case," she said.
Still, Milkie said it will be good for all the villages to have trained humane officers on staff and to know that the humane society will continue offering sheltering services.
"This will work out for the best for everyone," she added. "It's such a needed service and is really a perfect example of something that could be privatized, but no one's interested."