The Monroe County Animal Shelter faced the potential of being defunded by the county, but that appears to have been avoided.

During Monday night’s county commission budget workshop, commissioners tentatively agreed to continue funding the shelter in next year’s budget.

The plan as of Monday night was to fund the shelter with $225,000 per year.

A vote on the budget is expected next week.

The shelter has been maintained through the Monroe County Friends of Animals’ partnership with the county government. The funding provided by the county has allowed them to continue serving the community with various animal related jobs, such as housing, adopting and animal control.

“The partnership is still a county entity and that happens to be one of the budgets that the county commission is considering cutting or defunding,” said Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram prior to Monday’s meeting. “I certainly feel that it is a viable and important service to our citizens and our county.”

According to Ingram, the possibility of making cuts was not due to the recent economic impact of COVID-19 but simply because the county has a tighter budget plan that is similar to the past two years.

The president of the Monroe County Friends of Animals, Jim Barrett, stated prior to Monday’s meeting that he had received a call from the mayor’s office informing him that the shelter could be defunded.

“Our non-profit organization has been partnered with the county for the last 15 years or so to share the cost of running the animal shelter,” Barrett said. “Our organization is very upset. We got together and collaborated with the county back in about 2004, created our organization and shelter, and since then we have done a lot and made a lot of progress in terms of having animals adopted, rescued and not seeing strays on the street anymore.”

Prior to the meeting he expressed hopes that the commissioners would reconsider their plans of defunding the shelter.

He stated the county has expressed interest in MCFA completely taking over the shelter.

“That would be extremely difficult for us to even contemplate,” Barrett said prior to the meeting.

He stated that they would have had to devise a plan should the county have decided to “shut down” the shelter.

“We would have to sit down and start over by taking a look at our mission,” Barrett noted. “There are other ways to help animals than just house them, so there are different directions that we can go but we haven’t given that serious thought because we are trying to fight this battle right now.”

Removing the shelter would have held consequences for citizens of the county, Barrett argued.

“Animal control protects the community from strays and diseased animals and there is also all of the animal lovers who work hard to rescue animals,” he said.

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