Windsor residents voice concerns for future of animal care and control

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Wed., Jan. 29, 2014
Animal Control Officer Brian Davis gives the animal control facts to the committee to assist with the decision-making process. Committee members include Assistant Town Manager Emily Moon, Councilor Alan J. Simon (D), Councilor Ken M. Wilkos (R), Councilor and Town Improvement Committee Chairman Bill Herzfeld and Town Manager Peter Sousa. Photo by Jennifer Coe.
Animal Control Officer Brian Davis gives the animal control facts to the committee to assist with the decision-making process. Committee members include Assistant Town Manager Emily Moon, Councilor Alan J. Simon (D), Councilor Ken M. Wilkos (R), Councilor and Town Improvement Committee Chairman Bill Herzfeld and Town Manager Peter Sousa. Photo by Jennifer Coe.

Many passionate residents came to the Windsor Town Council’s Improvement Committee meeting on Jan. 28 to discuss the future of the animal control facility in town. The committee members include Assistant Town Manager Emily Moon, Councilor Alan J. Simon (D), Councilor Ken M. Wilkos (R), Councilor and Chairman Bill Herzfeld (D) and Town Manager Peter Sousa.

The current Windsor animal control facility is being sold to create future apartment complexes. Though the residents seem to agree that the current state of the facility is not in the desired condition for its purpose, the dilemma is what to do about that. Some say that Windsor should build a new facility, and others feel that using a regional approach to house the animals is best. With the proposed regional agreement with the Windsor Locks dog pound, Windsor would bring any stray animals or lost pets to that facility, and the town would finance the animals’ stay at a rate of $15 a day. That cost would reflect the care and feeding of the animals.

Eight-year-old Hayden Pratt told the committee, “We want our pets to stay in Windsor. Windsor is a nice place to live and I want them to live here.”

Though the reasons for keeping the shelter in town may have varied, that seemed to be the consensus of many of those in attendance. Some residents were more concerned with the costs related to using a regional method of caring for stray and lost animals, while others were more concerned with the pet safety issues involved.

“I live on Stone Road,” said Debbie Samson, co-founder of Friends of Windsor Animal Care and Control, Inc. “There have been many times that I needed an officer to come to my home. If an officer is called away to drop an animal off in Windsor Locks, there is one less available officer to respond to emergency calls. If we end up using the regional approach, it will affect the safety of the animals, as well as the community.”

“We really need to have a facility here in Windsor,” Samson said. “Also, where is the money from the sale of the dog pound going? That has never been addressed.”

One person suggested hiring more officers. The town figures the cost of each officer to be around $100,000 when the training and benefits are factored into the equation, according to Herzfeld. “We need to find a solution to our problem, but we need to put our residents’ needs first,” said Herzfeld. “We all love our pets, but not everyone is going to have the same priorities. I was thinking that a regional approach was a good idea, but now, I’m not convinced the money would be worth it. We will find a solution that works best for the town, I’m sure. That’s why we’re here.”

If a pet runs off and is picked up by the animal control officer, the owner is notified as soon as possible. However, if the pet goes to another facility like Windsor Locks, the animal is tested for the parvo virus while in the officer’s car. If that pet tests positive, the animal is to be put down. “The police officers sign on for many tasks, but this shouldn’t be one of them,” said Herzfeld.

Dr. Larry Pennington of Windsor Animal Clinic addressed the committee with his concerns. “I take care of many animals in this town,” said Pennington. “Sometimes I have the unfortunate task of euthanizing the animals because they are not adoptable. That is a very difficult task for me. I am in favor of fixing up the old facility until the new one can be built. I feel that the new facility should be very visible to people so that these animals are given a fair chance to be adopted.”

“What does the state of Connecticut say has to be done by the town in regards to an animal control facility?” asked Simon. “We need to know what is expected of us and what makes the most sense for our community. Everyone has their own priority list, but the financial aspect of this problem has to be addressed properly. I am opposed to spending almost $700,000 for a new facility. I want to see if this can be done for less and what the state mandates to be done. Then I will decide how I feel about this project.”

The outcome of the meeting was that there are too many questions that remain unanswered. Sousa has agreed to find the answers to the questions within 45 days and relay the information to the committee.


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