Rockland County Legislators Ed Day and Alden Wolfe have called for a committee review of the status of the Hi-Tor Animal Care Center in Pomona. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Clerk of the Legislature Laurence O. Toole determined the appropriate committee was Planning and Public Works but said the meeting date and time had not yet been scheduled. The main topics of discussion at the meeting open to the public will be Hi-Tor’s funding and the condition of the facility.
Day said the shelter, which is county-owned property and is the only animal shelter in Rockland, has been deteriorating and becoming more uninhabitable.
“It’s been an accumulation of incidents,” he said which led to the bi-partisan decision to schedule the review.
Wolfe, who is vice chairman of the legislature, explained,” I thought that airing these issues in a committee setting would be the best way.”
Day and Wolfe said there has been considerable finger pointing about the condition and financial status of and no one has taken the lead to resolve the problems.
Wolfe said if the county is going to allow Hi-Tor to continue to use a county-owned building, it is the county’s responsibility to make sure the building is safe and appropriate.
Clearly, there needs to be something done to push this issue forward,” said Day. “This is an issue of animal control and care.”
Their intent is to provide a forum to get the facts and find out who is responsible for what. Part of the problem appears to stem from the fact that various levels of government are involved. The state requires local municipalities to fund animal control if they issue dog licenses. Rockland’s five towns and the Village of Spring Valley all fall into that category.
In 2002 the county passed a law requiring Hi-Tor to take in all domesticated animals. Hi-Tor Board President Roberta Bangs said that puts Hi-Tor in the position of having to meet an unfunded mandate. The county budgeted $66,200 in 2011 for Hi-Tor and the figure for 2012 is $49,650. Hi-Tor raised about $150,000 in 2011 and had to use an additional $85,000 from its reserve fund.
“It puts us in a position that we can’t continue without a resolution,” she said.
In 2011 they not only cared for dogs and cats but chickens. Bangs said the shelter has 30 kennels for dogs and currently has several more in foster care.
“We had a goat last year,” she said. “We have people bring in turtles, hamsters, gerbils, anything and everything.”
She is optimistic about the review.
I think it’s incredible that w finally have two people taking the lead and bringing it to the front,” said Bangs. “I think it’s a great step in the right direction.”
The legislators expect representatives of the towns and the County Executive’s office and Department of General Services’ Facilities Management Maintenance Division, municipal animal control officers to attend along with some of the Hi-Tor staff. Day is hoping for a wide range of people knowledgeable about animal control issues and animal care. Wolfe wants to get a clearer understanding of the issues surrounding Hi-Tor.
Toole said he might know on Thursday if the issue has been added to the Planning & Public Works Committee’s agenda for either its January 31 or February 14 meeting.
Whatever the outcome is, Day is looking for it to be a long-term solution.
“Whatever is done is something people should be able to count on,” he said.
Wolfe said the goal is, “Moving forward how can we make sure this important service is going to be provided.”