But, she added, no matter how good the situation may appear to the naked eye, it doesn’t hide the fact they’re out there. In fact, like most places, they’re everywhere.
As Grimes and county officials begin crafting an updated animal ordinance in the coming weeks, one key ingredient that could be added is requiring all cats in the county to be licensed and a fee charged in hopes of trying to regulate the county’s population.
"We’re trying to eliminate wild and stray cats," Grimes said Thursday in a report to the Berrien County Board of Commissioners’ administration committee. It’s something being considered because they’re everywhere. With the economy the way it is, people are dumping them."
Grimes did not release how much the licensing fee could cost. She declined to say what some of the other additions to the animal ordinance would be, but added it will include stricter laws.
Berrien County in October already approved $5 to $10 increases in four expense areas related to dog licensing. That move was made as the county faces the realization that it likely will have to switch methods of euthanizing animals from gas chambers to lethal injection, as state legislation banning gas chambers as a means to put down companion animals is expected to pass this year.
In other related news, Grimes said she is hoping groundbreaking for the proposed animal control facility on Napier Road occurs this year, possibly as early as this spring.
Building a new facility to replace the current one on Huckleberry Road in Berrien Center has been years in the making. Grimes said the staff alone has raised about $250,000, and the county now has about $1.6 million put aside for a new building.
Grimes said the current plan for the new shelter calls for having a large animal building attached to the shelter. Such a building could house large, farm animals, such as horses and cows.
The animal control facility would be the first building on 48 acres of land the county bought last year on Napier, where officials plan to construct a county facility over the next several years.
County Administrator Bill Wolf said in October that the cost of a new animal control center was estimated at $2.6 million in 2005.
The county received a $215,000 donation last fall by the estate of the late Gloria LaPointe, of Niles, and Philip Molica, of Cassopolis, to go toward an expense above general operating costs.
Grimes also commented during her report that the county has been experiencing some rabies problems. There has been an increase in rabies found in raccoons, bats and foxes. Grimes said foxes have become more prevalent in the county.
"We should all be alert," Grimes said. "It’s here. I think it’s something you have to address."
Staff writer Tom Moor: