The Bloomfield Township Animal Control Division will reopen July 1.

The Bloomfield Township Animal Control Division will reopen July 1.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

Bloomfield Township animal welfare division reopens July 1

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 23, 2020


BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — It’s been close to a year since the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees voted to scrap several programs to make up for a budget shortfall.

The township’s Animal Welfare Division, a branch of the Police Department, was one of the first services to get the ax. But as of July 1, the division will be back in action to handle wildlife concerns, animal disposal, and of course, domestic needs like lost pets and licensing.

It was an approximately $5 million deficit facing the township that prompted the closure initially, due to retiree benefits and health care costs now legally required to be funded at 40% following a change in Michigan law.

Voters decided last August to close the deficit with reductions when a proposed special assessment district to bring in more revenue failed, with 62% voting against it.

Shortly after the SAD died, the board voted 5-0 to close the Animal Welfare Division, with Supervisor Leo Savoie dissenting and Trustee Neal Barnett absent.

Savoie said a combination of higher investment returns, personnel cutbacks and outsourced services in other areas made it financially feasible to bring the Animal Welfare Division back.

That’s furthered by a new $14,400 agreement between the township and the city of Birmingham. The division’s shelter will house animals for Birmingham as needed, in exchange for an annual fee, along with a $35 fee per day, per animal housed at the shelter.

“I knew these things were in the works; we were refinancing debt, changing our health care (expenses), not rehiring certain positions,” Savoie said. “I knew we’d get to where we needed to be without cutting the Animal Welfare Division.”

Lt. Paul Schwab, of the Bloomfield Township Police Department, said the officers are happy to bring the division back, even though he said they fared fairly well without the additional help.

“We were forced to make changes to the types of animal complaints we to respond to. We received several calls from residents (who were) disappointed the service was suspended and asked the township to reinstate it if possible,” he said in an email.

Schwab explained that having a dedicated animal welfare officer at the ready who is specially trained in dealing with animal complaints makes for a safer and more efficient experience for residents and law enforcement alike.

“We are most looking forward to servicing the residents again and being able to provide a healthy and safe haven for stray animals,” he said. “In addition, having our animal welfare back responding to calls will allow our officers to focus on more police-related activities and calls for service.”

The outright savings of eliminating the division were reported to be around $175,000, though the net savings was closer to $140,000 after the cost incurred outsourcing animal control services to Oakland County Animal Control.