As a decades-long partnership with Davenport approaches a swift end, the Humane Society of Scott County says the city’s offers to continue handling animal control enforcement did not make financial sense for the organization because of an influx of stray animals and increased operational costs.
Davenport has designated the Humane Society as its animal control enforcement arm for years, assigning the organization responsibilities like nuisance complaint response and stray animal capture in exchange for monthly payments.
In a Facebook post this week, the Humane Society pointed to several financial burdens that have made it “challenging for us to cover the cost of Davenport animals with Davenport dollars,” including an increase in strays, animal housing needs and medical costs.
“To continue our relationship based on a contract negotiated five years ago would be fiscally irresponsible for the future of our organization,” the social media post said. “We have been serving the needs of animals in Scott County since 1902 and will continue to do so during and after this transition period is complete.”
The designated spokesman for the Humane Society declined to make additional statements, saying more information will be shared when it becomes available.
The Humane Society’s response comes after Davenport leaders have decided not to pursue a new contract with the organization, leaving the immediate future of citywide animal control uncertain. Davenport Finance Director Brandon Wright has suggested the city hire four of its own animal control officers, saying the costs would be lower and a new model could offer more oversight of the city’s various code enforcement policies.
“At the end of the day we have a responsibility on our side to do this service differently for far less money if we can,” Wright said during a recent interview with the Quad-City Times. “And under that model we absolutely can.”
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Contract negotiations have been ongoing for about a year. In March, a lawyer representing the Humane Society sent the city a 90-day cancellation notice, though the letter left open the possibility of reaching an agreement.
Under the current contract, which ends July 1, the city pays the Humane Society nearly $223,000 per year. Wright says the organization wanted more than triple that amount in a new contract — roughly $750,000 annually — and the numbers did not work out in the city’s benefit.
In 2016, Davenport’s animal control agreement was responsible for roughly 25 percent of the organization’s overall revenue, according to the most recent available tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service. Nearly half of the organization’s revenue came in the form of grants and contributions that year.
As the city is attempting to have animal control available with less than two weeks before the contract with the Humane Society ends, city officials say they have some of the framework set into place. Some equipment is already owned by the city, and there is the possibility of having the Davenport’s code enforcement officers work temporarily on animal control until four new people can be hired who specialize in that area, said Wright, the city’s finance director.
The city also needs to find a place where captured stray animals can be stored. City officials are working out a deal that would use space in King’s Harvest Pet Rescue No Kill Shelter, but are also thinking about getting a new building to serve that purpose.