Three Rock County communities will now send stray pets picked up by police to the Dane County Humane Society.
Most of the municipalities are citing cost as a reason for seeking services outside of Rock County.
City leaders in Beloit, Edgerton and Janesville signed contracts with the Dane County Humane Society agreeing to use that facility for impounded animals. That agreement went into effect on Jan. 1.
Under the contract, the Dane County Humane Society will also take in stray animals from Rock County if there is enough room.
Capt. Vince Sciame, of the Beloit Police Department, said the cost of using the Rock County Humane Society drove the city’s choice to look for other options.
"Due to budgetary issues, changes needed to be made there," Sciame said. "And that's why we've contracted with Dane County Humane Society to assist us with that."
Sciame said Beloit is paying the Rock County Humane Society for the person responding to any scene, as well as a fee for every pet housed in that facility. Janesville City Manager Eric Levitt explained the costs as a monthly fee in addition to the "per animal" payment.
As a part of this change, the Beloit Police Department will train its three community service officers to handle strays at the scene and transport them to the kennels in Dane County. The department also plans to get a vehicle specifically assigned to moving animals to their temporary home.
Sciame stressed citizens can still take any animals they find to the Rock County Humane Society. He said he's seen all facilities handling abandoned pets struggle lately.
"The humane societies, I think, are stretched to their limits," Sciame said.
In Janesville, Levitt said he is maintaining a dual contract with Dane and Rock county facilities. Levitt is concerned about the cost, as well as the space and age of the Rock County Humane Society.
Dane County Humane Society public relations coordinator Gayle Viney said she is pleased her organization had the means to negotiate this kind of deal.
"They were needing services that they weren't able to find or were having a hard time working out contracts in their current areas, and so they reached out to us for help," Viney said.
Dane County Humane Society officials said they can accommodate the additional animals at the Voges Road shelter by making some minor operational adjustments.
Rock County Humane Society Director Angela Rhodes was caught off guard by the new agreements, saying she was only aware that some municipalities were looking for boarding space for animals they seized from owners.
Rhodes said in an email that she is worried about reuniting pets with their owners under these new contracts, stating that "the lack of communication is incredibly disappointing as lost pets may be in other locations that we knew nothing about."