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Owner surrender fee likely for Forsyth County Animal Shelter

NORTH FORSYTH — Surrendering a pet to the Forsyth County Animal Shelter is about to come with a price.

At its final meeting, the Forsyth County Animal Control and Shelter Advisory Committee put into place a new owner surrender policy, which requires county residents to pay a $25 owner surrender fee and possibly a $35 owner surrender disposal fee to help mitigate the costs.

“[The fee] is miniscule compared to what it costs us to take an animal in and get it ready for adoption and care for it,” said Jeanie Curphey, shelter manager.

“It makes [the owners] more responsible about what they’re doing, by charging a small fee. And it also, perhaps, changes the mindset of what the shelter is. It’s not a place where you just dump things.”

The disposal fee comes in response to a recent rise in the number of Forsyth residents dropping off pets that needed to be euthanized and passing the cost onto the shelter.

If it is determined that an animal can’t be adopted out or taken in by a rescue — typically due to age, illness or aggression issues — the county will add the disposal fee to the surrender fee, for a total of about $60.

“We try to encourage an owner to be responsible,” said Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt. “We don’t want to be a cheap, easy, quick disposal for an owner. We work with them to try to make them aware of what’s likely going to happen with their animal.

“When you call it a disposal fee, it’s not said nicely. It’s really what’s going to happen.”

The fee will apply only to those surrendering their pets, and will not apply to residents taking in stray animals.

According to the policy, litters smaller than 25 puppies or kittens will count as one animal.

The policies likely will be officially adopted at an upcoming meeting of the county commission.

The meeting was the last for the committee, which was assembled more than four years ago and was to exist until the shelter had been in operation for a year. The shelter opened on Aug. 22, 2014.

Merritt thanked the group, made up of local veterinarians, commissioners and representatives from rescue groups, for their service, including the 42 meetings the committee has held.

“From myself, and staff we appreciate your commitment of time, your interest your involvement, you participation, your active participation,” he said. “You’re helping us sometimes get a different view point than what we might normally have.”

It is possible a new board will take on a similar role, but whether one will be put into place and who would serve on it is at the discretion of the commission.