By Don Iler • News Editor • 

County plans to close dog pound

Commissioners decided on the public-to-private move based on figures provided by Capt. Tim Svenson of the sheriff's office, which oversees animal control. They suggested the county could expect to spend $80,000 boarding strays elsewhere, but generate an additional $100,000 in licensing fee revenue by freeing up kennel supervisors to beef up enforcement of licensing regulations in the field.

Svenson said dog control relies on a lot of inmate labor, and that requires close supervision. He said that limits the time paid personnel can spend in the field ensuring citizens comply with licensing requirements.

The county plans to issue a request for proposals from private kennel owners. Svenson said he could see the county's closing its facility within the next six months, once the bid process has run its course.

The sheriff's office allocated $463,893 to animal control in its 2014-15 budget. Privatizing the operation would increase the projected outlay to $501,033, but he sees that being more than offset on the revenue side.

Svenson told commissioners the Newberg-Dundee Police Department eliminated its animal control program on July 1 and turned that function over to the sheriff's office. He said the transition had gone smoothly for the most part, though some things still needed to be worked out. 

 He said he also envisions partnering with the Newberg Animal Shelter. He said it would be more convenient for all concerned if Newberg-area strays could be dropped off at the shelter instead of having to be driven to McMinnville. 

Donn Callahan and his wife, Nancy Woodworth, who have been helping out at the county shelter, and had offered to donate money to fix it up, said they were fine with the decision to begin housing strays in private kennels instead.

"Our goal is to have decent facility for animals and have it run as well as it is now," Callahan said. "I realize it would take a huge amount to make building better." 

Operating the fairgrounds shelter costs the county $17,400 a year. Even if the facility were updated, the sheriff's office estimates that it would cost the county more, especially if the department started contributing to a reserve fund, which it is currently not doing. 

The shelter is more than 40 years old, and is showing its age. The roof leaks and the wiring is outdated. It is also cramped and prone to flooding.

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