Janesville City Council considers cuts to stray cat program

Janesville City Council considers cuts to stray cat program

Stray cats in the city of Janesville may have a harder time finding a home next year.

For years, the Janesville Police Department and the Rock County Humane Society have partnered together to house stray cats at the shelter. Officers pick up stray animals across the city and deliver them to the Humane Society, which can shelter as many as 600 stray cats a year. The stray cat program is in danger of being cut as Janesville’s City Council takes a look at its 2015 budget.

According to council president DuWayne Severson, all the city’s departments were asked to cut their respective budgets by 10 percent for the coming year. Severson says when the police department considered where it could cut, the program was the only viable option.

“They’re pretty lean as far as what they’re able to cut,” Severson said. “The one item the police chief was able to identify was the reduction in the Rock County Humane Society amount.”

Council members originally considered cutting $70,000 from the pet program, which would virtually eliminate the police department’s partnership to save stray cats. That number has since been reduced to $60,000.

“That’s 10 percent of our budget from the city that brings in 50 percent of the stray animals,” says Bret Frazier of the Humane Society. “That would be catastrophic to our sustainability as an organization and our ability to continue to do good for lost and homeless pets.”

“We know that it’s a tough time and it’s difficult for them as a nonprofit,” says Severson. “However, we feel we had to cut our budget accordingly.”

Frazier argues any savings accrued by cutting the program now won’t outweigh the costs associated with an increase in the city’s stray cats.

“I promise the council that the $70,000 we’re talking about in 2015 is nothing compared to what the price tag will be in 2017, 2018 and 2019 to catch back up and take care of the deferred maintenance that would be a result of leaving this go,” Frazier says.

Janesville’s City Council will hold two public hearings on the entire budget, including this program cut, on Nov. 10 and 24. Council members will vote on the budget following the final public hearing.

This program cut only applies to the city’s stray cats – police officers will continue to pick up stray dogs and deliver them to the shelter.