2010-09-30 / Front Page

Town mulls Potter League services for animal help

By Phil Zahodiakin

Jamestown is exploring the possibility of enlisting the Potter League – the Middletown-based animal shelter – for stray animal placement and other services.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, who advised the Town Council of his intentions during its Sept. 20 meeting, told the Press that he will forward his inquiry to the Potter League this week.

The town, which eliminated its animal control officer position last summer, has signed a memorandum of agreement for ACO services provided by North Kingstown. Under the agreement, North Kingstown will dispatch its ACO in response to reports of vicious animals, among other situations.

Keiser told the Press that he is opening a dialogue with Potter because, among other reasons, Potter provides medical care to the strays placed in its shelter.

“We are looking at possibly expanding our services for stray animals [lacking tags with contact information],” Keiser said, “so that when officers see that a stray animal is injured, we could place it at Potter – where its injuries would be treated – whereas medical care is not part of our MOA with North Kingstown.

“So, we’re going to weigh the possibility of availing ourselves of the greater range of services at Potter,” Keiser said, “if an agreement can be reached.”

Keiser also revealed that he plans to look into the feasibility of establishing an animal welfare fund.

“The fund would be supported wholly or in part by private donations,” he said, adding that “other municipalities support funding for animal care beyond their basic allocations for enforcing animal control ordinances.

“We’ve also had discussions with the Jamestown Animal Clinic,” Keiser continued, “and they’ve indicated an interest in working with us. In fact, I’m waiting for a proposal from the clinic as to what services they can provide us, such as some pro bono veterinary care, which they provide through their association with Potter.”

There could also be a role for Potter in assisting Jamestown with dead strays believed to be infected with rabies – an issue which arose earlier this month, when a homeowner reported a skunk whose behavior suggested it might be rabid.

Although a responding police officer euthanized the animal, it would have been unsafe for the offi cer to have picked up the animal because police officers are not vaccinated for rabies. The homeowner later reported that the animal had disappeared – probably, it was suspected, because a fox or a coyote picked it up.

If the dead animal had not vanished, the state Dept. of Environmental Management or North Kingstown’s ACO could have been called to pick it up. Asked if the skunk incident suggests – as some residents believe – that the town would be better off with a full-time ACO, Keiser said, “No.”

“In the course of the past 12 months,” he said, “we’ve had nine cases of suspected rabid animals. We don’t need a full-time ACO for nine rabid animal responses a year.”

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