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Warner Robins raises fees for impounding loose pets in unincorporated Houston County

In last night's council meeting, City Attorney Julia Mize said the agreement hasn't been updated since 2008. Meanwhile, animal food, vaccines, and more all cost more

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Editor's note: We have a correction on a story on new fees coming to the Warner Robins animal shelter.

So far, these new fees apply only to pets picked up in unincorporated Houston County and taken to the city shelter. The fees have two parts.

First, Houston County would pay the city a $125 kennel fee for each animal brought there. They’ll pay more if the pet stays longer than seven days.

Second, the pet owner would pay more too — $50 the first time their animal is brought in and more for the second and third offenses.

Again, these new costs apply only to animals picked up in unincorporated Houston County, but the City of Warner Robins hopes to apply those fees to all animals brought to the Warner Robins Animal Shelter.

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If Warner Robins Animal Control picks up your stray dog or cat in unincorporated Houston County, you're going to pay a lot more to get your pet back.

The City of Warner Robins and the Houston County Board of Commissioners passed a new contract setting Warner Robins animal shelter's impoundment fees. Warner Robins council members passed it Monday night and Houston County commissioners passed it Tuesday morning. The new contract updated their intergovernmental agreement for the Houston County's animal shelter.

Until now, if animal control impounded your pet in unincorporated Houston County, it would cost you $25 to get it back. 

Now, for the first offense, you will owe a $125 kenneling fee per animal and a $50 impoundment fee per animal.

Animal control officer Jessica McAbee supports the change.

"There's a lot of things changing now. It's so much different than it was so many years ago. The cost of things are going up regardless and we have to be able to maintain and continue doing what we do," McAbee said.

In last night's council meeting, City Attorney Julia Mize said the agreement hasn't been updated since 2008. Meanwhile, their costs for animal food, vaccines, chip scanners, and more are all going up.

"The county has worked with us. We've been able to again establish collaboration and corporation for the joint use of our animal control with our hardworking animal employees who do a lot with a little... Costs go up and we want to make sure that we are providing the resources, so that the cats and dogs can be cared for as the Department of Agriculture requires; and perhaps, greater partnership in the future, but it's an excellent move and it will bring our current kenneling costs up to current costs," Attorney Mize said.

"Anything to improve their well-being or provide a safe environment for them, while they are here with us, because we are here to take care of them. We are their voice. Sometimes pets are here for months at a time. We've had cats stay here for over a year before they got adopted. I mean, they stayed healthy and happy and they were content, but still that's a long time in a cage and just no way of life," McAbee said.

The Warner Robins animal shelter covers the city limits, Houston County's unincorporated area, and Centerville -- but not Perry. They have their own animal shelter. So, Mayor LaRhonda Patrick says the new agreement saves taxpayers "big dollars."

"It's very important for all of the parties involved that we update our IGA, so the City of Warner Robins is not the one carrying the other two municipalities, because that was what was happening. We were carrying all the animals from the other municipalities. Our taxpayers are carrying that bill. Now, with this new IGA, the city is not covering the expenses for all of us. Everyone is pulling their own weight. So we are extremely grateful for this new agreement," Mayor Patrick said.

Houston County Chairman Tommy Stalnaker says it's been a long process, but it started coming to fruition in the past 30-60 days.

"I would like to thank the City of Warner Robins for these negotiations. I've got a lot of appreciation for Mayor Patrick and also city staff for putting this together with the county. Many hours have been put into this document, thus far, and I think it has some good things, positive things going forward, both for the City of Warner Robins and Houston County," Stalnaker said.

Mayor Patrick says Houston County donated $100,000 for the Warner Robins Animal Shelter's new HVAC system. McAbee says it'll be replacing the HVAC system in some of the kennels.

"Just giving thanks to the Houston County Board of Commissioners, Chairman Tommy Stalnaker, and his entire team for working as a team with the City of Warner Robins in finalizing this new intergovernmental for the animal shelter. The chairman was very generous to just offer the amount for the HVAC and we never even asked that, so we are very thankful and pleased with the partnership with the county and this initiative," Mayor Patrick said.

"I'm very appreciative and thankful that they came together and decided to do this for us," McAbee said.

The new contract says -- for people in unincorporated Houston County -- you'll pay a $100 impoundment fee per animal for the second offense, and a $150 impoundment fee per animal for the third and each subsequent offense.

The new agreement takes effect immediately.

Mize says the agreement lasts for one year, and then they'll review the contract again.

According to McAbee, the Warner Robins Animal Shelter has 9 employees. Six are animal control officers and two are kennel assistants.

She also says, since January, animal control officers have registered 806 animals into their facility.

On June 11th, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the shelter is hosting an event called Paws N' Pints. It'll be at Black Barley Kitchen and Taphouse. They will have $10 microchips and $20 adoptions.

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