The end of an era happens June 9 as the Top of Ohio Pet Shelter (TOPS) closes its doors to accepting dogs and cats in need of a place to stay. The shelter, which has been in operation since the 1970s, has been overcome with financial problems, according to shelter president Randy Schmidt.
In April, the board approached the Logan County Commission for financial assistance to pay off payroll tax liens. Ohio law requires the commissioners to appoint a dog warden to control stray dogs. In Logan County, the sheriff is the dog warden.
In documents provided to the commissioners, the pet shelter board said it needs $19,000 a month to run the shelter on North U.S. Route 68, but receives less than half that amount in income. Ninety percent of dog license fees, about $7,000 a month, collected by the commissioners are paid to the shelter. Donations and adoption fees of about $2,000 per month do not cover the remaining deficit.
“I’ve checked with surrounding counties and none of them have monthly expenses in excess of $9,000,” said Commissioner Dustin Wickersham. “I can’t justify the $19,000 per month expenses we were asked to make up and help with the payroll tax liens.” Primary expenses include a $1,700 per month mortgage and payroll costs, excluding taxes, of $9,600. Schmidt estimates the shelter needs $150,000-$170,000 to get out of debt.
Commissioners are considering options to dog control, including housing the dogs temporarily at the jail for less than 24 hours and then transporting them to another county. The TOPS shelter had room for 50 dogs. Schmidt blames part of the shelter’s financial problems on lack of enforcement of the dog licensing law. Since an increase in license fees to $14 two years ago, the number of licenses issued has dropped.
Judy Wherry is a regular contributor to this newspaper.