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Animal shelters face new state licensing fees

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  A sharp jump in state fees is forcing animal shelters to tighten their budgets.  Up until just recently, local shelters had to pay about $150 a year to stay licensed.  Now they are paying up to 17 times more than that.

On any given day, between 350 and 450 dogs and cats are housed at the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri's shelter.

"Some of them are found stray.  They'll wander up to somebody's house. Others, we'll see them on the side of the road and bring them over here," said Darin Landrum, executive director of the shelter.

Other animals are simply dropped off by families who no longer want them or who can no longer care for them.

"We have to pay for everything:  the lights the water, the staff to take care of them, the food, the vaccines, the surgery, the medical treatment," Landrum said.

Those operating expenses add up to nearly $80,000 a month for the shelter.  That is why a state law that increased licensing fees for shelters hit the charity so hard.

"That little line item of animal licensing from $150 all the way up to $2,500.  Now we have got to figure out where we're going to get that money," Landrum said.

For the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, $2,500 will cover two months worth of food.  It is a small portion of their overall costs, but it will be difficult to make up.  It could be even more of a challenge for smaller animal shelters.

"No city, no municipal, no government,on kind of funding whatsoever, except from our donors," Landrum said.

"This is going to be taking programs away, food away, and it's going to be rough to get it figured out," he said.

Lawmakers at the state capitol first approved that additional licensing fee a couple years ago.  The fees applied to breeders as well.  The Humane Society of the United States challenged the new law, but the State Supreme court ruled it stands.


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