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St. Clair Shores to consider animal control options

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 27, 2019


ST. CLAIR SHORES — Citing multiple reasons it may be looking for a new option for animal control in the city, St. Clair Shores City Council voted Dec. 16 to extend its contract with Macomb County Animal Control for six months.

Stating that he and St. Clair Shores City Manager Mattew Coppler had a meeting with Macomb County representatives that included “some rather lively discussions,” Police Chief Todd Woodcox explained that they were “not fully satisfied with the terms of the contract laid out” for renewal between St. Clair Shores and Macomb County Animal Control.

After the meeting, Woodcox explained that a large reason for the debate was the fact that St. Clair Shores was paying $88,000 per year for an animal control officer and services, and the county wanted to increase that amount to $162,000 per year.

“The service has been better with the county ... (but) an increase of almost 100% is shocking,” he said.

Councilman John Caron, the council liaison to the Animal Welfare Committee, said that while the city used to collect license fees for animals, those dollars are now sent to the county. He said that he’s unclear what benefit St. Clair Shores gets from the county for the tax dollars it pays, outside of animal control.

“If, from the county, we could understand what level of service they provide for the other areas so we have a direct comparison,” that would be good to know, he said. “I don’t know if we have any other services that we get from the county, outside of the Sheriff’s Office.

“If there’s a list of direct services we get from the county, outside of just running the county government, that’d be good to know.”

St. Clair Shores decided to contract with Macomb County Animal Control in 2014. For the annual fee, the city was guaranteed coverage at all times, its own dedicated officer and replacement officers if that officer was unavailable.

Woodcox said that St. Clair Shores was also told that the animal control officers would be “fully deputized and would be able to handle running warrants up to the county.”

That part of the contract hasn’t come to pass, he said, as animal control officers have only been able to issue violations for 90 days or less.

“Anything that needs investigation ... will fall back on our detective bureau,” he said.

The contract does cover any kenneling fees incurred by animals taken out of St. Clair Shores, he said.

However, while the response time is usually good, Woodcox said there have been times when the Police Department has called for an animal control officer and “there’s been quite a delay, and that delay is because they were outside of the city.”

“That was part of the liveliness of our discussion when we were meeting before,” he said.

Woodcox said that, during the six-month extension to the contract, they will be exploring “all options.”

The contract extension — which will cost the city $44,000 — expires June 30, 2020.

A call to Macomb County Animal Control was not answered by press time.