One year ago police seized nine cats, six dogs, four horses and one chinchilla from their owner. The animals were taken to the Somerset County Humane Society’s shelter. As of January those animals cost the society $27,890 — and three horses are still under the society’s jurisdiction.
“We are a private, nonprofit group,” society President Sally Urban said. “This was one case and it cost almost $28,000 so far. People donate to us financially, but a case like this can kill a society. I know of some that have had to close because they were overwhelmed.”
There is legislation pending before the state Senate that would require abusers to pay for shelter and veterinarian costs of rescued animals. The cap on costs is $15 a day, not including veterinarian fees. The bill has already passed in the House.
“It’s not only the cost,” Urban said. “Those three horses are still in limbo — they can’t be adopted until the case gets through the court. When we take in animals that we can’t adopt out, they keep us from accepting more animals. It is so devastating when an animal can’t be adopted.”
She and shelter office manager David Mayhugh support the bill.
“In too many instances we are taking animals in and we want to care for the animals, but it puts a strain on our facility,” Mayhugh said. “When dogs are brought in that can’t be immediately adopted, they can sit here for months. It is not healthy if they can’t get into homes. We are really hoping this law gets passed.”
State Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler County, the bill’s prime sponsor, could not be reached for comment. Senate Judiciary Chairman Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery County, plans to bring the bill up for consideration before the summer recess, his office said.