Government Contracts

Municipalities are frequently faced with balancing tax dollars between people and pets and the weight of the scales is definitely balanced toward people.  It is not uncommon for a municipality to look for alternate funding for their animal services program and will let their local humane society take over the operation.

For the city or county, they believe that the humane society is in a better position to request donations and run the program using volunteers.  Governments generally don’t want to ask for donations because it calls into question their appropriation of tax dollars.  I have worked in municipalities that refused to allow us to collect donations for our animals, because they claimed it sent a message that the shelter was not adequately funded.  Fortunately,  they would not turn their nose down to charity grants.

Humane societies see the contract as a source for additional funding and having the ability to cherry pick over the animals as the shelter.  It usually doesn’t take the humane society very long to see that the additional funding doesn’t go very far and these contract relationship usually don’t last long.

The biggest mistake that humane societies make is to attempt to keep separate books; they will tout that they are a no-kill shelter while euthanizing eighty percent of the “city dogs.”  Even the most generous of supporters will  realize that an eighty percent euthanasia rate is unreasonable.  I’ve witnessed more humane societies surrendering their government contract when the community saw that the humane society was inflating their placement numbers.  To the community, the shelter numbers represent live animals and they count.

One humane society director learned (the had way) that his protection as a private citizen became void after accepting a government contract; along with the contract the director becomes a public official.  This director decided to sue a volunteer who alluded to his high (80 percent) euthanasia rate.  He likened the volunteer to being a terrorist (okay, a little overkill).  The courts pointed out that accepting the government contract, he had become a public figure and had to suffer the verbal abuse like the rest of us.  The courts ruled that volunteers are allowed to exercise their first amendment rights.