(UPDATED with comment from Jefferson County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink about ongoing negotiatons.)
The future of a Jefferson County animal shelter is uncertain as it fights for a contract extension from the county. Rockn EZ Rescue Ranch in Madras is contracted through the county to take in strays and animals recovered from police.
“Those animals we’re required to bring in for the county is costing us $35,000 a month. And the county’s paying us $20,000,” said shelter treasurer and board member Jan Forrester. “What Rockn EZ has done is basically assume the liabilty to come up with $15,000 a month to take care of dogs the county should be responsible for.”
Over the last six months, Rockn EZ Rescue Ranch has taken in an average of 36 dogs a month.
“That means we have to bring them in for no less than 10 days for the police, for strays five days. We have to make sure they all have their shots, that they all see a vet, that they get any medical treatment they need, that they get spayed or neutered. It’s a big expense,” Forrester said.
The shelter wants to extend its contract from one year to five years, with an increase in pay from $240,000 a year to $300,000 a year.
“Somehow, it flipped where we’re asking for bailout — and we came and bailed them out last year — and would like to continue. We’ve started this on a trajectory to succeed after where it was before and there doesn’t seem to be much interest in that,” shelter executive director Cindy Fisher said.
The ranch’s contract with the county is set to expire this year. Without a contract extension that can cover operating costs, the shelter will fulfill the rest of its contract through June and then shut down.
“Costs have gone way up. Animals are not being adopted. The population of animals is huge and there’s not enough homes for the animals. The direction for a high-kill shelter, that’s not even an acceptable thing, especially in Oregon,” Fisher said.
An official decision on a contract extension is supposed to be made during the Jefferson County commissioner’s meeting on Wednesday.
Central Oregon Daily spoke with Jefferson County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink late Friday. He insists the county needs and will have a shelter. The two sides are still in negotiations, but he adds that shelter may not be able to provide the services that some may want, but it will provide the services the county needs.