Fee changes proposed for Fairbanks animal shelter

In this Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, photo, Roxy, a young adult Siberian husky, looks out from its cage at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter in Fairbanks, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman) MAGS OUT

FAIRBANKS — Fee changes area being proposed for Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter.

The Borough Assembly recently shelved the proposal after veterinarians spoke out against it, saying it could undercut already discounted rates.

The assembly is set to revisit the issue in February.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/vifNQP ) says the proposal calls for raising the standard adoption fees for all dogs from $90 to $130 and from $55 to $90 for cats.

Under the proposal, the fees would also cover the cost of spaying or neutering if needed, as well as vaccines and a tracking tag.

Animal control Director Sandy Bessler says the changes would reduce confusion about prices and cut down on adoption wait times.

The shelter currently sends animals for spaying or neutering once they are selected for adoption. The process can include setting up an appointment with a veterinarian, boarding fees and varying fees for medical care.

Some people have to wait as long as two weeks to take their new pets home, Bessler said.

“People get very frustrated when they come in and they can’t put in that amount of time to make it through the process,” she said.

Local veterinarians had a problem with part of the proposed ordinance that would allow the borough to negotiate its prices with them. Barb Cole, a veterinarian and president of the Interior Veterinarians Medical Association, told officials she worried any lower prices would make it difficult to do the procedures.

Bessler told assembly members that suggested rates are an average cost of all medical services over the past year, so rates are expected to remain budget-neutral without lower fees.

Learning that has helped Cole soften her stance.

“As a doctor I absolutely think they need to revamp the process,” Cole said, “and I think their proposals are very good. And I think if they can better explain it that’d be fine.”

The proposed process could lead to such benefits as faster adoptions, according to Bessler.

“We can only handle a certain number of animals and anything beyond that, we have to euthanize the animals simply because we don’t have the space to house them,” she said. “We try pretty darn hard to not euthanize them.”

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