Clallam County asked — again — to help West End with animal control

Official: Friends of Forks Animals picking up slack

FORKS — The city of Forks and volunteers who now provide animal control on the West End of Clallam County are again asking the county to contribute to the effort.

Officials said during a joint meeting between Forks and Clallam County representatives Monday that they could begin drafting a reimbursement agreement and that the county will look closely at its budget in June to consider allocating funding.

Forks City Council member Juanita Weissenfels told Clallam County commissioners that animal control from the county on the West End is non-existent and that the city and Friends of Forks Animals has been picking up the slack.

She suggested the city could bill the county for animals that are taken from the county to the city’s shelter.

“There is a need for increased animal control activity on the West End,” said Commissioner Bill Peach. “We took a stab at what that may cost and what occurred to the commissioners is there’s this long list of things that are great ideas that we stopped when we had to balance the budget.”

Peach said commissioners would look at costs during the county’s mid-year review in June and re-evaluate that list.

“If you’ve got feedback for us that we’ve impacted your community by being penny pinchers, we need to hear about it,” Peach said.

It’s an issue that officials have been discussing for some time. During the last joint meeting in September, city and county officials said they would like to find a solution.

Weissenfels, who is also the spay/neuter coordinator for Friends of Forks Animals, said that her hope has been “dashed” and that the West End still has no animal control provided by the county.

“We’re picking up the slack out here for the county,” she said. “The people in the county out here are paying the same taxes they are in Port Angeles and we’re getting nothing.”

She said there is no presence from the county on the West End and that when there is an emergency it takes up to two weeks to get a response from the county.

She said Friends of Forks Animals, which is a spay and neuter organization, has become the default rescue organization for the West End.

It works with Forks police officers to get animals from the region into the city’s shelter. Volunteers and inmates from the Forks jail care for the animals.

Commissioner Mark Ozias said the Sheriff’s Department and the Forks Police Department could put together information about animal control that could inform the county how many animal calls there are outside of city limits.

Forks Police Chief Mike Rowley said the number of calls each agency responds to is tracked in the computer aided dispatch system.

“I don’t see any reason we can’t start working on some of the more straightforward pieces, like developing a reimbursement agreement,” Ozias said. “That seems like low hanging fruit.”

City Attorney Rod Fleck said that such an agreement could be drafted within 60 days.

He said the question that needs answered is how much the city would bill the county per dog per day spent at the shelter.

“While it may take some time to work through the details of the documents, it seems reasonable that we would have a better sense of the scope of what we’re talking about,” Ozias said. “I think we could at least be positioned for our June mid-year check in to be prepared to consider allocating the funds.”

Though no specific numbers were provided during the meeting, City Clerk and Treasurer Audrey Grafstrom said the number of animals from outside city limits that are placed in the city shelter is “a much larger number than any of us realize.”

She said one animal that came from outside city limits once did several hundreds of dollars of damage to the shelter.

“I’ll be displeased if by our next joint meeting we haven’t made some progress,” Ozias said.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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