A fire in July destroyed much of the Wind River Veterinary Clinic’s facilities and has led to impound complications in the Lander area. (Photo by Albert Schadwill)
(Lander, Wyo.) – Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker today said his deputies will no long pick up stray animals.
“We’re in a bind right now,” he said.
The decision to not pick up strays follows a number of complicating factors on both the Lander and Riverton ends of the county. The Wind River Veterinary Clinic in Lander announced last week that it would no longer take impounds for a couple reasons. Additionally, Hornecker said the funding the county provided to the PAWS for Life Animal Shelter has run out for the year, and it advised the sheriff’s office last week that it wouldn’t take the county’s impounds any longer.
Last Friday, Wind River Vet Owner Rich Boulette told County10.com that, owing to allegations lodged against him by the nonprofit Lander Pet Connection and construction occurring at his business, that he would no longer impound dogs from the City of Lander or the county. Boulette has a contract with the city for the impounds, and city clerk Robin Griffin she had not received any written notification of his desire to terminate the contract. Historically, Boulette billed the county for each dog it impounded.
This year the Fremont County Commission cut the amount of funding it supplied to PAWS, which Hornecker said was used to reserve kennel space for impounds. In the 2012-13 budget, PAWS received $12,000 from the county. In the current fiscal year, the county gave the shelter $6,000. The Lander Pet Connection received $3,000 from the county this year, and it did not request anything in 2012-13.
With both facilities no longer working with the county, Hornecker said, “We do not do stray animals anymore.”
With regard to vicious animals or those involved in a criminal investigation, Hornecker has worked out direct billing with PAWS. Already though, he said, his office has had to tell people that they will not pick up any stray dogs.
Hornecker said he will be speaking with the commissioners next week about finding a way to get more funding to PAWS.
Following Boulette’s announcement, the Lander Police are also working on short term solutions to the ongoing problem of dogs at large.
Animal Control Officer for the City of Lander Alan McOmie said for the time being an arrangement has been made with the Lander Valley Animal Hospital to quarantine vicious and biting dogs.
With most cases of dogs running at large, McOmie said he’s able to track down their homes and return them to their owners.
McOmie said right now Boulette has said he would take a couple small breed dogs that he can house in kennels inside his clinic’s temporary office. McOmie is also working the Furry Friends for the possibility of reserving a couple kennels for backup on weekends, but the cost currently would exceed what the city has paid Boulette in the past.
In the last week or so, as the impounding problems have arisen, he said some residents who caught the dogs have been willing to hold on to them for a few days while McOmie works to track down the owners. He said he’s been impressed with the support the community has provided given the situation.
In communications with the City of Lander and the Fremont County Commission, the Lander Pet Connection alleged that the animals at Boulette’s were living in “substandard conditions.” (Read more about the allegations and Boulette’s announcement here.)
Lander Police and Hornecker himself investigated the impound situation. “I could not agree with their assessment of his kennels,” he said.