Jefferson County commissioners are exploring options for animal services in the county.

“We’re looking down the road at something to make available to our officers so when they do find a stray, that they have some place to go with that animal,” Commissioner Scott Hancock said.

The commissioners have allocated $3,000 for an animal shelter this year. According to the budget provided by the county, $5,000 allocated for that purpose for the 2019 fiscal year went unused.

In a Sept. 3 meeting, commissioners spoke with Kristin Sanger of the Snake River Animal Shelter in Idaho Falls. Commissioners had previously spoken with Andi Elliott of Hamer Aug. 26. Elliott said she had reached out to local veterinarians and she presented their emailed responses to commissioners. The emails, sent from Mountain River Vet Hospital and South Fork Animal Clinic, indicated neither organization would be interested in holding animals. However, Elliott said those at the Snake River Animal Shelter would be.

In the Sept. 3 meeting, Sanger said the shelter could make an agreement with Jefferson County to take in stray and runaway dogs found in the county. Sanger said the shelter would, however, not take in cats from Jefferson County.

“We would only be able to provide the service for stray dogs,” Sanger said. “We are overflowing with felines already.”

Having a shelter take a dog in would cost the county $35, and the fee after that intake would be $10 per day for a certain number of days, Sanger said. Sanger said the contract she presented to the county would last one year and be automatically renewed unless changes were made or commissioners decided to terminate the contract.

Commissioner Roger Clark asked if the shelter would take in injured animals as well. Sanger said injured dogs would need to go to the vet before the shelter could take them.

“We don’t have the facilities to take care (of injuries),” she said.

Snake River Animal Shelter currently has a similar agreement with Ucon. Jacob Fullmer of the Ucon Police Department said the agreement has cost the city less than $500 since the agreement began in July 2018. He said Ucon does have a small pound and tries to locate owners before taking animals to the shelter.

Sanger said the shelter charges Ucon for up to three days to hold an animal, though she said five days of holding is traditional in most communities. Sanger said if an owner claims their pet within that three-day period for Ucon, the owner is then responsible for paying the fees the city would have paid, plus a $20 microchipping fee.

“That microchip just makes it a lot easier for the county to locate where that animal needs to go,” she said.

If the canine were unclaimed after the agreed-upon period of time, Snake River Animal Shelter would then look to adopt the animal and cover the cost of the microchip, Sanger said.

Fullmer said the primary downside to the agreement is the city can only bring animals in during business hours. Sanger said it could be possible to give night-time access to officers in Jefferson County.

Though the shelter would not accept cats from the county, Sanger said the shelter could implement a “trap, neuter, release” (TNR) program in Jefferson County.

“We would like to pursue some grant funds to help do some TNR work in the county,” she said. “That will help to start reduce your feline population for you guys.”

Hancock said cats were not as much of an issue in the county. He said because Jefferson County is rural, hawks, owls and sometimes coyotes keep the population down by eating the kittens. Sanger said the shelter would still be interested in implementing a TNR program.

Hancock said commissioners would look over the contract more thoroughly before making a decision.