April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Town officials dispute animal accusations

By HSJ Online [email protected]

Hope town officials are disputing some of the charges made by a resident at Monday night's Hope Town Council meeting.

Annessa Thayer was on the council's agenda for the Monday meeting to discuss her concerns about the town's animal control efforts. In a heated exchange with Town Council President Clyde Compton she accused the town of "adopting out" animals more quickly than county law allows, of dumping those animals on area farms rather than truly putting them up for adoption and of allowing the animal control officer to use the town vehicle for personal business.

But town officials dispute those accusations.

Thayer charged that the town was allowing captured animals to be adopted within two days of being caught, rather than waiting for five days, which she said is the county standard.

Town Manager J.T. Doane and Town Marshal Matt Tallent point out that the town follows its own adoption rules, rather than the county code. They said the town is allowed to make rules that differ from county or state ordinances.

"We have our own town ordinances for pets," Doane said. "We can't necessarily be below the county, but we can put more strict or stringent requirements on it."

Tallent agreed.

"We can't be any less strict than the state, as far as animal ordinances go," Tallent said. "There are hardly any state laws as far as animals go. The county ordinances have nothing to do with us."

The town made several amendments and additions to the town ordinances in April of this year. A link to the new ordinance is below.

"It appears that she may not completely understand that process, and how it works," Doane said.

Doane said that the entire animal adoption process is a recent development, instituted in the last year by the town as a way to save money. Prior to offering animals for adoption, the town had to pay $48 to the Bartholomew County Humane Society for each animal that was taken to the shelter.

"The only reason we started this adoption process is because every time we take a stray animal to the Humane Society, it costs $48 for an animal," Tallent said. "So, every cat that we take to the Humane Society is $48. The taxpayers have to pay for it. When Mel (Fox) started this whole adoption process, it was literally just trying to save a little money as far as taking the stray animals to the Humane Society."

People who wish to adopt an animal picked up by Hope's animal control must fill out a form and there is a photo taken of the animal being adopted. Tallent said there is no fee charged to those who wish to adopt an animal.

Tallent said that the town does not drop animals on farms.

"Until we had this adoption process, all animals that we took in that we deemed abandoned or stray, went to the Humane Society," Tallent said.

Tallent said there are no current town rules that are being violated when the animal control officer uses the town vehicle for personal business. Although, after the concerns were brought up Monday night at the Town Council meeting, there have been new discussions about adding such a rule.

"As of right now, there is no violation," Tallent said. "We are not going to limit her to not driving the vehicle in town.[[In-content Ad]]