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2012 Budget Cuts Most Animal Control Services for Greene County

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/2012-budget-cuts-most-animal-control-services-greene-county_27103.mp3

Animal control services in parts of Greene County are expected to take a major budget cut. The Springfield/Greene-County Health Department tells KSMU’s Rebekah Clark what impact the cuts will have on services.

In 2007, the Greene County Commission approached the health department about expanding animal control services to urbanized areas outside of the city limits of Springfield. Under the new budget plan, which will be submitted to the county commission for approval on Jan. 5, most of those animal services are not funded.

The impounding of loose dogs, investigating animal bites and quarantining biting animals are some of the services that the county started funding five years ago. The goal was to provide the same level of service which had long been available within the city limits to developed areas of the county, particularly residential neighborhoods. Kevin Gipson, the Director of the Springfield/Greene County Health Department, explains.

“About five years ago, the County Commission came to us wanting to expand Animal Control into the Urban Services Area around Springfield and the county. The budget cuts this year, those dollars to support the Animal Control in the county have been reduced to zero, so consequently, the services that used to be provided will no longer be provided as of January 1.”

The “Urban Services Area,” also called the “Urban Animal Control Area” includes neighborhoods just outside of Springfield city limits.

“The Urban Services Area that we have defined as sort of a ring around Springfield, which is residential areas around Springfield that hold about fifty thousand people.”

Gipson says the people in this area will still be able to get help when an animal bite occurs.

“We will no longer do any Animal Control at all in the county of Greene, so Greene County will be basically without any kind of Animal Control Services, except for bites. If a citizen is bitten by an animal, then they have to call Greene County and they will investigate and make sure the animal is quarantined. But there will be no leash laws; there will be no investigation or jurisdiction of vicious or threatening dogs.”

About 50,000 people live in the area that will no longer have animal control services. Jenny Edwards is the Public Information Officer for Greene County.

“People that live outside the Urban Service Area will see no change. People that live within the Urban Service Area, also known as the Urban Animal Control Area, will no longer have services through the Health Department for Animal Control. That means that dogs running loose in the neighborhood will no longer be picked up.”  

Gipson says that if people who live in the Urban Services Area find stray dogs, they can try and talk to an area rescue service, but the Animal Control probably won’t be available to help. There were more than 1,000 calls for services last year.

There’s a link to a current map that shows the boundaries of the city of Springfield on our website, KSMU.org. Those outside city limits must call the county Planning & Zoning Office at 868-4405 to report animal bites, which is a way for the county to control rabies. Edwards says this office will work closely with the Sheriff’s office to respond to those reports.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.

Click here for a link to a map of the city limits.