The Hamilton County Commissioners are expected to decide in about a month how the county's dog warden functions will be handled. They'll be looking for a new option after the SPCA Cincinnati said it will not be providing those services in 2020.
SPCA President and CEO Jake White made that announcement Tuesday during a county commission meeting.
White said the board of trustees approved a resolution to end the contract with the county for the services. It's expected to be paid about $1.8 million this year for those services of patrolling and housing stray animals.
White said the group will work on a smooth transition.
"We're dealing with souls here. We're dealing with dogs," White said. "But we have to do within the framework of the law. Contract ends, we can't hold the dogs. That's just law. We can't do that. So let's work together to be able to figure this out so that there is a smooth transition. We do want to work together."
Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Aluotto also wants a smooth transition.
"I'm confident that still by later this this year, early fall, we'd be able to come back to the board with a recommendation that moves this function forward in a productive manner in 2020, presuming we are able to work in a good manner with the SPCA on a transition," Aluotto said.
The county commission in April agreed to renew its contracts with the SPCA for services while investigating ways to change how the county fulfills its requirement to patrol strays and enforce licensing. Humane laws (i.e., animal cruelty) may be enforced by law enforcement agencies or humane societies.
Animal advocates have argued the SPCA-run dog wardens do nothing to help endangered or abused animals and don't work well with area law enforcement. They want the sheriff to take over and create something similar to the Butler County Sheriff's Dog Warden & Humane Officers program. They also aren't happy with the level of transparency offered by the SPCA, though the agency has made changes since the beginning of the year, including reporting requirements and quarterly public meetings.
Administrators presented two options for dog warden services.
One includes allowing the sheriff's department to serve as the dog warden and that would cost about $2 million a year, and $299,995 in start-up costs.
Another would set up a separate office to do the work at a cost of about $1.9 million year, and $444,500 for start-up costs.
County officials are going to review the level of service, or how often a dog warden would be available, for each proposal and report back to commissioners.
The county would also have to buy the SPCA's current facility on Colerain Ave. to house animals, or it would have to build another facility.