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The Callaway County Humane Society is seeking an increase in funding from the county to expand its spay and neuter program.

Board members from the Humane Society met Tuesday evening with the Callaway County Commission to discuss their program, which has received $1,200 annually since 2017. The Humane Society would like to have its funding doubled.

"We only have so much time to fundraise, and we just can't do any more at this time," Humane Society Vice President Sandy Corbet said.

The society's spay and neuter program provides $25 vouchers to county residents looking to have their cat or dog fixed and also provides an additional discount at participating county veterinarian offices. With the voucher and discount, the average out-of-pocket cost for having a medium-sized dog fixed is about $80, society board member Mary Simpson said.

The Humane Society's goal is to have 365 vouchers used per year — "one dog spayed a day." Corbet said the organization has given out approximately 300 vouchers so far in 2019, yet only 99 have been used.

"The struggle is people don't see the value in (these vouchers and discounts); they just want it free," Corbet said. "The people that we struggle with are the ones who say, 'oh, it's a dog,' and they let them run and terrorize the county."

According to the Humane Society, they have rescued 100 animals in the county in 2019. Corbet cited multiple incidents of puppies and kittens being abandoned all across the county.

The main challenge with the rescues is the Humane Society lacks its own holding facility or shelter locally. The organization was looking into leasing a space as a holding facility, but it did not have the funds to go through with the plan. The rescues are taken into foster care and even end up at Corbet's home.

"Sandy's not going to be around forever," Simpson said. "I've seen the work she does bringing all of those animals into her home, and I know I couldn't do it."

While the commission has not begun planning funding for 2020, all three commissioners agreed spay and neuter programs are effective in the county, and they want to help the Humane Society continue its progress.

"I believe the spay and neuter program you have been working on has benefitted all of the county, I really believe that," Eastern District Commissioner Randy Kleindienst said.

During the meeting, Corbet took issue with the Callaway County Sheriff's Department's handling of animal issues in Kingdom City. Corbet cited specific incidents of dogs being left in motel rooms following their owner's arrest.

Sheriff Clay Chism, who was also in attendance, defended his department's actions.

"I don't know about the Kingdom City incident, and I'm not going to persecute the deputies without having the details of the call and assessing the way that call was handled," Chism said.

In a formal statement, Chism outlined it is up to the County Commission as to whether or not it has an animal control program. His office's responsibility is to enforce criminal law, not civil ordinance issues.

"I understand the Humane Society has frustrations with me and my office, but the simple fact is the finger should be pointed elsewhere," he said. "My deputies are not civil animal control officers and do not have the statutory authority to act as if they are."

The Humane Society is also looking to add another program for cats with a goal of fixing at least 365 a year.

"It's early in the game, and I don't like to make a lot of promises, I'm just saying that we will definitely look at (expanding funding) because I know you guys are doing the right thing," Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann said.

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