The Humane Society of the Flint Hills and Lyon County failed to reached an agreement on contract renewals, the county announced Thursday evening.
That means, effective Jan. 27, the Emporia Animal Shelter will no longer work with Lyon County for animal quarantine services.
“Despite months of good faith negotiations, Lyon County was informed today that the Humane Society of the Flint Hills has chosen not to renew its contract with Lyon County for animal quarantine services,” the county said in a post to social media. “No reason was formally given.”
Humane Society of the Flint Hills director Stephanie Achille said the breakdown in negotiations was regrettable.
“An agreement was not reached between the Humane Society of the Flint Hills and Lyon County after nearly a year of heated conversations and several months of negotiations,” she told The Gazette Thursday night. “The sheer demand of our city alone surpasses our current shelter capacity for care. Our frequent reports of full capacity are a direct reflection of the community that we serve and that fills us while we follow the ASV Guidelines and 5 Freedoms as well.”
Achille continued that it was a matter of not having enough space for the county’s demand.
“Sadly, the amount of services and spaces desired by the county versus what we would have available were too far apart to work something out contractually now,” she said. “Remaining no-kill and providing high-level care to our shelter pets during their temporary stay with us will always be our priority. The need for a larger shelter(s) and additional animal rescues is immense. At this time, it is not feasible for our shelter program to continue working with the county.”
She told The Gazette Friday that the Humane Society had offered one last "good faith" alteration to the contract. She said negotiation challenges have surrounded the number of kennels available for county-held animals, financial support and "an overall disregard for our current shelter program."
She said the Humane Society offered two quarantine court-hold kennels and a financial support increase. The proposal has not yet receive a response.
Achille told The Gazette that the county accounted for a large number of intakes but a relatively small share of funding at $10 per day, per county animal for up to three days. She confirmed the contract with Lyon County is set to expire on Jan. 27.
“The amount is very minimal in comparison to the city support,” Achille said. “The county fluctuates between a quarter to 40% of the animals brought into the shelter annually as well. Then, after three days, we’ve been told that they (the animals) are our responsibility and not their (the county’s) concern. The support to remain no-kill is non-existent in this ending relationship.”
The Kansas rabies control law states that dogs or cats suspected of biting humans must be isolated for 10 days — or as determined by the local health officer. Until the contract expires, the Humane Society of the Flint Hills fulfills that role for Lyon County.
Sheriff Jeff Cope said the lack of agreement further exacerbates complaints from the community regarding nuisance animals.
“Earlier this year, after complaints from the Humane Society about the volume of animals they have to deal with, the Sheriff’s Department has had to scale back enforcement of nuisance animals complaints — dogs chasing cyclists is the main problem — simply because the Humane Society has refused to house those animals,” Cope said in the county’s post. “But public health authorities have a statutory duty to pick up animals suspected of biting humans — it’s a public health issue and not something we can just stop enforcing. The county is looking for other avenues to house the potential rabies cases, but at present we are not certain where we can take these dogs after Jan. 27.”
Achille said the Humane Society gave the county 120-day notice in September that the current contact would not be renewed. It was signed in 2015 when the shelter first began being managed by the Humane Society of the Flint Hills.
“Much has changed since then, including the passing of the HSFH Board Members that signed that contract,” Achille said. “Starting in late fall 2021, the shelter has ran completely different in accordance to different reputable guidelines and laws as well. Times and needs have drastically changed.”