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Animal shelter safe after city makes budgetary reductions

Although the Newberg-Dundee Police Department’s animal control officer position will be cut as of June 30, there’s one essential detail Police Chief Brian Casey said residents should understand: animal control and the animal shelter are entirely different entities.

“I’ve had some feedback from the community, essentially (saying) ‘We hear the animal shelter is closing.’ That’s not accurate,” Casey said. “The animal shelter will remain open and … our goal and our belief is actually it will become a better shelter with potential to really be an asset to the community. It’s just a matter of getting people to understand the difference between animal control and the animal shelter.”by: GARY ALLEN - Animal shelter safe - The animal control position in Newberg has been cut, but city officials ensure this will not affect the animal shelter, which is run by Newberg Animal Shelter Friends, a nonprofit group.

Acting City Manager Lee Elliott said the cut, which saves the city between $80,000 and $90,000 annually, was not made lightly.

“This was purely a financial situation,” Elliott said. “The decision was not taken arbitrarily or lightly. There was a lot of discussion from administration and the council. We want to do everything we can to help offset some of the challenges and make sure it’s a positive step.”

This includes continuing to cover the $8,000 to $10,000 annual fees for insurance, building maintenance and utilities (on the shelter).

“We’re hoping it will actually improve the services they’re providing and enhance what they’re doing because they will have greater control over services,” Casey said, speaking of Newberg Animal Shelter Friends, the organization that has raised most of the funds over the years to build the new shelter. “We’re hoping that they will continue to adopt out pets and actually expand on what they’re doing. Our primary function at the city was dogs and stray dogs. They have ability now to convert over and do more with cats. The animal shelter itself will have ability to work with a wider variety of pets and animals. There all kinds of groups out there looking for assistance to house them.”

Animal control in Newberg will now be under the purview of the county, which is stationed out of McMinnville. Casey said his office hopes to coordinate with the county to assist when needed, primarily with stray dogs. But the main focus is supporting the local shelter.

“(We want to) do everything we can to ensure they’re successful,” he said.

Elliott said although they would prefer to keep the position, it was a choice that was made to put off cutting other positions that couldn’t be outsourced.

“Policeman, fireman or the library could (have been) possibly reduced, so our view was since it’s a mandated service required by the county, and we’re the only city in the state providing this service, let’s let the county do this so we don’t have to start looking at other positions,” he said.

Although eliminated for the foreseeable future, Casey said the position could return.

“I would say that is something that’s driven by two things. One thing is the economic ability to do that, the financial ability to do that,” Casey said. “The second is what our city wants. Is this something they want to see brought back? Are they satisfied with the level of service from the county? It’s always an option to be brought back, but I think it’ll depend on those two things.”

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