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New fee blamed for low feline adoption rate

Katrina Keywood, animal caretaker at the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter, holds a 4-year-old cat on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Brooklyn, a 2-month-old kitten, looks outside its cage at the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Wrong fee went into effect July 1 at county shelter

By Alex Bridges

WOODSTOCK -- The Shenandoah County Animal Shelter faces a problem finding homes for cats, and the wrong adoption fee may be the reason.

The Board of Supervisors learned last week that a fee it approved for the shelter was higher than originally proposed. The error went unnoticed until recently. The board has been asked to reset the fees to reflect the shelter's original request.

Cat adoptions remain low as the facility deals with an abundance of the animals, shelter manager Peggy Lahn told the board on Thursday.

In July, Lahn advised supervisors homes could not be found for the numerous cats and litters of kittens held at the shelter. The July report showed that the shelter had 59 cats for the month, 54 of which had been surrendered to the facility by their owners. The shelter adopted out 16 cats, euthanized 42, and one died. An owner or owners surrendered 20 cats to the shelter the previous month. The facility found homes for 16 and euthanized seven.

Officials contend that the higher adoption fee for cats that went into effect July 1 may keep people from taking home some of the shelter animals.

Supervisors voted in April to approve the ordinance that sets the fees charged by the shelter. The board also had held the public hearing as required for any proposed ordinance. The new fees took effect July 1.

Acting County Administrator Mary Beth Price told supervisors at Thursday's work session that the document in their agenda packet for the public hearing had the incorrect fee for cat adoptions.

The shelter charged an adoption fee of $10 for cats and $15 for dogs prior to July 1, Price noted. The board approved an adoption fee of $20 for cats and $25 for dogs.

Manager Peggy Lahn had intended for the county to increase the fees to $15 for cats and $25 for dogs, Price said.

"Our goal is to get these cats adopted and it would be our preference for it to be the lower cost," Price said. "She is charging what you approved in April, which is $20 and $25."

The board must hold another public hearing on the proposed revision to the adoption fees, Budget Manager Garland Miller told the board. The fees are set in an ordinance. Price said the county may not incur an additional cost to advertise the public hearing.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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