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Voters to decide on a millage to support the Ingham County Animal Shelter

A dark brown Pitbull named Wexford sits with eyes open and mouth closed looking at the camera. Wexford has yellow eyes with half pointed ears.
Courtesy, Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter
A fighting dog abandoned in Lansing is pictured at the Ingham County Animal Shelter.

A proposed tax millage on the Aug. 2 ballot would help fund operations at the Ingham County Animal Control & Shelter.

The Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter has one veterinarian and an assistant on staff. The pair provide medical care to the hundreds of animals who pass through the shelter each week. But shelter director Heidi Williams says they need more help.

"We really need another veterinarian, our current vet and vet assistants perform thousands of surgeries every year on their own, in addition to cruelty and neglect exams, medical exams, wellness checks, and they really need help with what they're doing," she said.

Williams says the millage would pay for one additional veterinarian, a vet assistant and an animal control officer.

"With that additional medical staff that will allow us to perform the surgeries [that right now] we can't, we're just full of animals that need to be spayed and neutered before they're adopted, " she said. "And right now we just cannot take on an additional medical service."

The funds from the millage will also help the shelter implement a program to spay and neuter stray cats from reproducing.

"We're also seeing a large need for community cats, and the population is just exploding because they're not being spayed and neutered," she said.

She says this position would allocate resources to find and shut down dogfighting operations in the county.

"This person is also going to be able to do some proactive policing as far as digging into the internet, trying to uncover dog fighting, cockfighting, puppy mills, where maybe the animals are not being cared for," Williams added.

The millage would be set at .20 mills per year over the course of eight years. That equals 20 cents for every $1000 dollars of assessed property value.

An expiring millage was approved by voters in 2016 at .24 mills. It helped pay for the construction of the shelter building in Mason and the hiring of 11 shelter staff members.

Williams says to keep these staff employed and hire more support they need the millage approved.

"So we've been in this building for about three years. And constantly, we're seeing more animals coming in," she said.

If the millage is not approved, Williams says the county's Board of Commissioners will have to decide how to pay for the 11 staff members funded by the existing millage.

"There are 11 positions that are currently funded out of the existing millage and those listed will be rolled over into this proposed millage. So, if it didn't pass on the comptroller's office, the board of commissioners would have to make a decision on our staffing." she said.

According to language on the ballot, an estimated $1.685 million dollars are expected to be raised from the millage in its first year.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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