Animal control to now go through county

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 20, 2014

ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Clair Shores animal control duties will now be handled by personnel employed by Macomb County, after a unanimous vote by City Council to enter into a contract for the service.

Discussing the deal during the Aug. 4 City Council meeting, interim City Manager Mike Smith said they first used Macomb County for animal control services when the city’s animal control officer was off the job for discipline.

“We were quite impressed by the manpower that was provided,” Smith said, explaining that those officers had training and equipment that St. Clair Shores’ officer didn’t.

In addition, he said, each of the county employees is a sworn law enforcement officer able to issue citations that carry more weight in court.

Smith presented the proposal to City Council Aug. 4, explaining that he believed not only would the county provide a great level of service to the community, but save the city money, as well. The contract will cost the city $88,000 annually, versus the $92,000 the city currently pays for the ACO’s wages and benefits — which doesn’t include the cost of his training, equipment or post-employment benefits. It runs through Dec. 31, 2019.

St. Clair Shores will lose its dog license fees in the agreement, but Smith said it will still be a savings in the long-run.

“When our employee is on vacation, they’ll backfill,” Smith said. “They have people on call, on standby 24/7.

“I just think this makes complete sense. If it doesn’t work, we can always opt out.”

Mayor Kip Walby said the agreement could be terminated with 90-days notice from the city or 30-days notice from the county.

Smith said the county is trying to provide licenses at all local veterinarians, as well, that would be applicable across the county, not just in St. Clair Shores. The municipality would be the only city contracting with the county for the service; other townships in the northern end of the county already have it provided to them.

Smith said the current ACO, Tom Massey, would be reassigned to another department in the city, possibly in the Department of Public Works.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie commended Smith for his work in getting the agreement with the county. She explained that after the city approved its trap-neuter-release program with the Macomb County Animal Shelter, she toured the facility.

“I have great confidence that they can provide a great service for our residents,” she said.

Walby said the city’s new Animal Welfare Committee wasn’t consulted about the agreement ahead of time because the city was being cautious because of personnel and union issues.

Smith said there would be no additional charge if the ACO was used after hours and that the county would cover the liability of its officers.

Residents can still call the SERESA nonemergency number to call for help from the ACO. They don’t have to call the county.

“We’ll be able to have the ability to have more than one set of hands to come and deal with the situation,” Smith said. The county officers also have tranquilizers, and the training and knowledge of how to dispense the medication if needed. “They are trained. They do have better support.”

One individual officer will be assigned to St. Clair Shores as part of the contract.

The motion approving the contract passed unanimously.